Tips on what to do if you have a skiing accident

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Being properly insured is a basic starting point if you are a winter sports traveller.  The costs of not being insured can be significant. 

While the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may offer limited protection in some parts of Europe, it is no replacement for comprehensive ski travel insurance.  If skiers do end up injured and being lifted to a private clinic or hospital by the pisteurs then without proper insurance cover, they could end up footing a hefty bill.

It is not just faulty ski equipment or collisions caused by fellow skiers that can lead to injury.  In a recent case, the resort of Font-Romeu was ordered to pay almost £1million to a young woman who suffered multiple trauma when she hit a patch of ice on a green run, skidded off piste and collided with some rocks. 

Here is our handy guide for skiers to help avoid accidents on the slopes in the first place and to ensure they are well equipped should the worst come to pass.

  • Familiarise yourself with the rules set by the International Ski Federation (Federation Internationale du Ski or FIS). Both skiers and snowboarders should have regard to these rules which form the highway code of the ski slopes in Europe. Similar rules are in place in Canada and the USA. 
  • One of the most important rules set by the FIS is that the skier lower down the slope has priority. If you happen to be knocked to the ground by another skier who has approached from further up-slope then there is a good chance they have ignored or negligently flouted the rule that you have priority as a skier further down-slope.
  • To avoid a collision, be sure to carefully check further up the slope when setting off or joining a slope.
  • Look after your ski equipment and make sure it is suitable for your requirements. Every year we see a number of skiing holiday accidents not caused by another skier but as a result of faulty or poorly fitted equipment. Make sure ski resort equipment suppliers ask you for certain information before you set off with your skis and be as accurate as you can with the answers.  Experienced skiers will know that ski fittings are determined by age, ability, height and weight. Skiers should make a note of their height and weight in metric and imperial before heading abroad.
  • Check out the position on the law for safety helmets in the destination country.  This is still an area of great debate. Be aware that in some resorts it is compulsory to wear a helmet for certain age groups. Skiers may want to consider wearing a safety helmet and other protective ski equipment, such as a spine protector, particularly if you are feeling adventurous and may be heading off-piste.

In the event that you are involved in a skiing accident, here are some key tips so that you have all the information needed to bring a claim for a skiing accident:

  • Report the accident to the piste authorities, and ask for a copy of the report;
  • Report the incident to your insurers;
  • Make sure you note down the full name and contact details of any witnesses to an incident or accident;
  • Take full details of anyone who may be responsible, including details of their insurer. Anyone who sets out on a skiing holiday should be adequately insured so that if they are injured or are responsible for someone else's injury then cover is in place to deal with the financial aftermath;
  • Take photos of the accident location and get someone in your group to return and make a sketch plan pin-pointing where the relevant parties were coming from and going to at the point of impact;
  • If your accident is caused by faulty equipment then it is important to have full details of who provided the equipment, what steps they went through when fitting the skis and bindings and what exactly the problem was with the equipment which has caused injury. Take photos of the faulty equipment or make sure the equipment is preserved for a rep to comment on or for the piste authorities to inspect;
  • Remember that you could invalidate your insurance cover if you have an accident on the slopes while under the influence of alcohol – setting off on your skis is in many ways no different to getting into a car to go for a drive;
  • If you dare to venture off piste at all consider going with a guide and with equipment such as a transceiver, probe and shovel.  While this may seem extreme, every year we hear stories where such equipment has helped save lives.  If that is too much of a burden then at the very least make sure you have insurance that covers you for off-piste skiing;  
  • Ensure you receive proper medical attention in resort. Keep full details of any treatment received.

Observing many of these useful tips will not only help avoid an accident in the first place but will make sure you have the information and evidence needed should you need to bring a claim as a result of a skiing accident.

BL Claims Solicitors are here to help

If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk