Who's responsible for skiing injuries?

When slipping and falling comes with the territory, who's at fault when someone gets hurt? As ski and tubing hills start to open for the season, here are some things to keep in mind before you hit the slopes.

Understand you're assuming a risk.

As in other personal injury cases, ski injury liability depends on the specifics of the situation. Compared to most other situations, however, skiing comes with quite a bit of assumed risk.

If you're a beginning skier and hurt yourself while skiing a black diamond slope, it's very unlikely that you'd be able to hold a ski resort responsible. But what if you don't know that you're heading down a black diamond?

A Wisconsin skier safety law enacted in 2012 balances the duties of skiers with the duties of ski resorts. Skiers need to follow the rules and ski within their ability, and ski resorts need to make sure trails and dangers are clearly labeled.

A beginning skier is responsible for steering clear of areas they're not ready for - but this only works as long as the ski resort clearly marks the difficulty levels of different runs.

Actually read waivers - and signs.

Whether you're buying a season pass or a day pass, there's a good chance you'll be signing some kind of waiver. But you should also see signs in the ski area letting you know you're assuming a risk by being there and reminding you of your duties to keep yourself - and others - safe.

Know what you're doing.

One of your duties as a skier is maintaining control of your speed and direction. Sounds easy enough, but in practice, what skier hasn't lost control at one point or another?

If it's been a while since you've skied - and this is the case for many people early in the season - take it easy at first. If it's been years, or you're just starting out, it could be a good idea to sign up for a lesson. Many ski hills offer "refresher" lessons to people who are feeling a little rusty.

And if you're skiing with others, make sure you everyone's comfortable with the terrain your group heads towards. It's tempting to push yourself - or others - to keep the group together, but remember that there's no shame in sitting out a run or taking different trails and meeting at the chalet. After all, nobody wants an injury to ruin your apr├Ęs ski. 

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