If you have been involved, free from blame, in a skiing accident, you are entitled to compensation.
Aside from calling for help, it is important to take photos, collect witness statements and get contact details from witnesses.
Regardless of how serious the accident may seem to be, it is always better to make sure that you can prove the accident, in order to absolve yourself or to claim fair compensation. Please note that the extent of what happened cannot always be established, hence, it is better to get yourself examined and reported anyway.
Keep receipts for all expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
Since it is mandatory, you can also ask for the other party’s insurance policy details.
Pay attention if cameras are present and ask as soon as possible for a copy of any footage.
All the information and evidence gathered could be useful, especially if you have to go to court to assert your rights.
Accidents With Other Skiers
Most skiing accidents happen because of carelessness on the part of skiers coming from uphill.
It only takes a little to have ruined a vacation, but the law protects victims of others’ inexperience.
Snow-capped mountains are a favorite setting for vacationers, so that so much enchantment is not ruined it is always good to “leave informed.”
Since 2004, Law No. 363/2003 (“Regulations on safety in the practice of downhill and cross-country winter sports”) expressly dedicated to the safety of skiing has been in force in Italy, the law became necessary because of the peculiarities of the vehicles used on the snow, which, while allowing high speeds, are not comparable to real vehicles.
The code, as it is designed, outlines an extra-contractual liability of those involved and is clear about the allocation of responsibility in the event of an accident on a ski slope.
In this regard, on the slopes, the skier uphill must always take greater care, due to the privilege of having a better view than of those downhill.
Accordingly, the various courts also tend to rule in litigation in favor of downhill skiers.
According to Law 363/2003, and common sense, skiers are always required to behave prudently, and maintain a speed that allows them to have time and space to stop when other skiers arrive.
Depending on the characteristics of the slope, the speed may change, but the prudence to be taken is always the same.
Even in the presence of third parties, liability remains unchanged because, if you hit one to avoid the other, it still shows that one did not pay enough attention at the time of descent, and the attribution of responsibility for the accident on the ski slope remains solely in the nature of the person coming from uphill.
Since there are the necessary exceptions and not always those who come from above are wrong, disputes about who caused what must be resolved by verifying the behavior of the parties involved, based on the evidence they were able to produce as well as the testimony of the witnesses.
The claimant will have to prove that there is a causal link between the conduct of the skier found guilty and the damage suffered.
On the other hand, the other party to the dispute will have to prove that there is no such link in order to get out of any liability.
Accident During a Ski Lesson
The responsibility of the ski instructor (and consequently the school) is contractual in nature: there is an obligation to ensure the safety and security of the student during the lesson.
If the skiing accident happens during a lesson, the school bears the burden of proving that it was not involved in the facts, that is, that the accident is not the fault of the ski instructor.
Assuming that sport itself is dangerous, if the instructor has put in place all the appropriate safeguards, he cannot be held accountable for an unforeseeable and random accident.
Responsibilities of Facility Operators
The operator of a ski facility must, by law, ensure the complete safety of the activities it operates and that take place on its slopes.
The responsibility on him or her is non-contractual (burden of proof on the consumer) if the consumer is on the site but has not yet accessed the services or paid for them. Responsibility becomes contractual to the user who has purchased a ski pass.
The court of jurisdiction in this case is where the consumer resides.
Ski accidents could also occur when there are anomalies on the slopes.
If the events are caused by lack of maintenance, lack of clear warnings about dangers and failure to activate protective means, the skier will be entitled to compensation from the operator of the facility.
The operator has the burden of proving that he or she was not responsible for the accident, because he or she would not be at fault if the accident occurred due to inadequate conduct of the user or fortuitous and unforeseeable events.
The operator who is found guilty will be held accountable for damages for non-performance.
If the operator is notified of a user’s dangerous conduct and fails to implement appropriate measures to stop it, he would still be guilty of accountability by omission.
Beware of Ski Accidents Abroad
When you are injured abroad, suffering a skiing accident abroad, the applicable law is that of the country in which you are, so your right to compensation is not a given.
If you have relied on a tour operator for your vacation, you may have recourse against that tour operator for any damage you suffer, whether it is an accident or a mismatch between what was promised and the actual facts.
Common practice is to take out insurance before leaving. Please note that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers treatment in a public facility but not a possible helicopter rescue or transport home by medical means. This is because the conditions that are applied to vacationers are the same as for the inhabitants of the foreign state where you are.
Ideally, you should take out an accident and third-party liability insurance policy to protect yourself as well as others that covers any unforeseen events.
Recklessness on Skis Gets Paid For
Six Italian regions, namely Abruzzo, Lombardy, Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto, have decided to take precautions from those who choose to venture off the marked slopes, namely hikers or skiers who risk their own lives and that of rescuers due to their reckless behavior.
If it is ascertained that rescuers ‘assistance is not necessary, the caller will have to pay out of his/her own pocket.
The New Regulations for Skiers
In support of Law 363/2003, new regulations have come into effect as of Jan. 1, 2022, implementing DL No. 40 of Feb. 28, 2021:
- for snowboarders and for all skiers, except cross-country skiers, liability insurance is mandatory. The insurance service can be activated not only at all insurance companies but also at ski facilities, which are in turn obliged to offer the purchase of an insurance policy along with the sale of the ski pass. There are specific policies covering the individual day.
- Obligation to wear a helmet in accordance with the law, for those under 18 years of age, for those who practice alpine skiing, snowboarding, sledding and telemark skiing. The helmet must be approved and homologated, or it will be confiscated.
- Prohibition of skiing while intoxicated.
Monetary penalties in case of non-compliance with the rules and misconduct of skiers, who are required to consider the characteristics of the slope, environmental conditions, and their own technical abilities to protect themselves and others.
SIMON (Mountain Accident Surveillance) tells us that every year winter sports leave behind a long trail of accidents, about 35 thousand most of which fortunately not serious.
The National Institute of Health, to whom we owe this data, has disclosed that nearly 80 percent of snow accidents are due to loss of control.
How to Claim Compensation for Ski Accident
If you have suffered an injury while at a ski resort, you are entitled to claim compensation for a ski slope accident.
As with all types of accidents, those that happened on skis must be documented in order to be entitled to adequate compensation.
Entitlement to ski slope accident compensation can arise in three situations:
- You collided with other skiers: claim for compensation from the person responsible. Under the law in effect since January 2022, anyone among the claimants found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol will still be held accountable for the accident.
- One is injured during a ski lesson: claim for reimbursement from the ski school. It will have to be the ski instructor involved to prove that he or she was not involved.
- The accident was caused by anomalies in the ski slope: claim for reimbursement from the ski lift operator.
The type of claim for reimbursement, and who bears the burden of proof, will depend on the circumstances of the accident.
Since insurance is now compulsory, if there are several people involved, those who suffered the accident may meanwhile seek reimbursement from their insurance company, which, in turn, may seek reimbursement from those who caused the accident.
The insurance also covers the attorney’s fee, in a form directly proportional to the value and difficulty of the case, so if you have been the victim of a skiing accident and would like to be guided to obtain the appropriate compensation, our Personal Injury Department can assist you.
If you have been the victim of a skiing accident during your vacation, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Boccadutri Law Firm for a preliminary assessment of your right to file a personal injury claim and the most appropriate recipient.
Feel free to tell us your story and our legal experts will examine should you receive appropriate compensation. You can contact our attorneys by filling out the legal advice request form.
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