WHAT TO DO IF INVOLVED IN A SKIING COLLISION
If you’re reading this you or a loved one or friend has probably been involved in a Colorado skiing collision. Getting medical attention is always primary. However, it is important to identify those involved and gather statements from any witnesses as soon as possible.
Identifying the at-fault party is crucial. Reliance on ski patrol or the ski resort to get this information is a bad bet. Ski patrol is going to be far more concerned with getting injured parties safely off the mountain and administering emergency medical care. Patrollers aren’t cops. Although getting unsafe and reckless skiers off the mountain is part of the job, they are far more concerned with injuries.
Most of the time ski patrol will compile a relatively thorough report concerning the nature, location, and causes of a skier or snowboarder collision.
Being able to locate witnesses later or use their testimony as evidence could make a significant difference in an injury case. Unless these folks are identified quickly they may never be found. At the very least, take down contact information. Most of us have cell phones on us when we’re on the mountain. A text or email exchange of contact information may make all the difference. If they have a ski pass, taking a picture of their pass can help find them later.
When talking with witnesses after a skiing or snowboarding crash, obtain the following information:
account of what happened (if the person saw the accident);
observations made of the other skier (like signs of intoxication); and
anything else of relevance.
Ideally, if the witness is willing to provide additional facts, have them email or text you what they observed. Don’t try to rely on memory.
Keep in mind that witnesses needn’t have seen the entirety of a skier crash. Some may have only seen a portion of it. Even if the witness just on the scene right after it happened, their observations may be useful. Their observations of the location of those involved in the collision and general terrain can have a big impact on establishing who the downhill rider was. They may only recall the anguished sounds of pain, bloody snow or crumpled body of an collision victim. Anything may be useful later.
I understand the accident scene may not necessarily be the best time to gather a lot of information from a witness. There can be quite a bit of confusion and chaos, and you need medical care. So it may not be until later on that witnesses may be questioned.
These questions could come from the insurance company, an attorney, or the injured person herself. A ski collision attorney can contact the witnesses (usually through an investigator) about giving formal statements about the accident.
Questions put to witnesses could be things like:
When did you arrive on the scene?
What happened immediately prior to the crash?
It’s also important to ask if the witness had a clear view of what transpired. Was there anything partially blocking your vision? Circumstances can vary greatly, depending on the person’s location relative to the crash.
Questions pertaining to:
estimated skier or snowboarder speeds;
distances between riders;
position on the run.
If possible, ask the witness to provide a sketch or diagram. Finally, ask about any conditions that may have impacted the accident. The witness might point out that visibility was hindered because of fog or snow.
Feeding or coaching into the person’s account or allowing speculations to be part of a witness statement can be damaging. Let them describe things in their own words.
Legal Help for Ski Accident Victims
If you were injured at a Colorado ski area give me a call at (303) 300-5060. I’m happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your case in detail and get started today.