Vail Resorts May Pay Punitive Damages for Teenage Skier’s Death

In January 2012, a 13-year-old skier died in an avalanche at a Vail Mountain ski run. Now, a Broomfield County District Court judge is allowing the boy’s parents to sue Vail Resorts for punitive damages.

On the day of the accident, the teenager was on a Prima Cornice ski run with several friends. Vail had posted signs about avalanche dangers in the area and closed the upper gate, but left a lower gate on the run wide open.

The boy entered the run through the lower gate, and sidestepped into a higher area above the run to wait for his friends. Tragically, an avalanche swept through the run and battered the young man. He was rushed to the hospital, but died from massive trauma.

The young skier’s parents are suing Vail Resorts for negligence, claiming the run’s owners violated the Colorado Ski Safety Act. They argue that the ski resort should have closed both gates on the run if there was high risk of an avalanche.

What Is the Colorado Ski Safety Act?

The Colorado Ski Safety Act protects resorts from liability when skiers are injured by the “inherent dangers” of skiing, but not if the facility acts irresponsibly. If a ski resort acts negligently, it is considered in violation of the Ski Safety Act and is ineligible for its protection.

The defense claimed that Vail Resorts had no idea that people used the lower gate to access the run, but the judge dismissed that argument. He ruled that by leaving the lower gate open, the resort “evinced an indifference or reckless disregard to the health and safety of others.”

Defense attorneys stress that this decision is purely procedural, and does not prove in itself that damages are “warranted or appropriate.” If the jury finds the corporation liable, Vail Resorts could pay up to $700,000 in both punitive and compensatory costs.

How Could a Wrongful Death Suit Help Me?

This family’s wrongful death suit is helping them hold the owners of Vail Resorts responsible for their negligent practices. Accountability is important, but it is also important to make sure that the resort changes its policies so that future skiers will be safe.

The right attorney can help you build the strongest wrongful death case possible to get the results you want. Metier Law Firm has represented victims of negligence for more than 30 years, so call and share your story with us today.

[Did You Know: The Colorado Ski Safety Act makes skiers liable for injuries caused by the “inherent risks” of skiing. Is this fair to skiers?]

Metier Law Firm, LLC – Injury Attorneys Serving Clients Nationwide