Ski season is in full effect, and Colorado ski resorts are finally getting some much needed snow. My son and I decided to take advantage of the fresh powder and headed west, along with what seemed to be half of the residents of Colorado, for a day of fun in the snow. But unfortunately, I was involved in a very serious collision with a 6 year old boy that resulted in a broken leg and a trip to the hospital...for the little boy.
While skiing down an advanced run, I looked up the mountain to see if it was safe to make my way across. As I looked up, I saw Colton (named changed) coming at me at a very high rate of speed. Colton wasn't out of control, but he was going too fast and was not able to turn very well yet (which is why he was coming straight down the mountain). There was nowhere for me to go so I braced for impact and did my best to catch Colton as we collided in order to, hopefully, prevent serious injuries. Fortunately, Colton and I were both wearing helmets and, fortunately, I was able to wrap Colton up in my arms and fall in a way that put most of the impact on me. Unfortunately, Colton's leg landed under me and, as we slid down the slope, his leg was broken.
More than 55 million people per year hit the slopes in the United States, and every year, there are about 135,000 serious injuries and 40 deaths. What do you do if you find yourself tangled up with another skier who decides you were at fault for their injuries? Where can you turn to help you with legal and medical bills that you may be responsible for? You may be able to get some help from your home insurance!
Your home insurance policy includes medical payments to others and personal liability coverage which protects you and members of your family that are living with you for injuries to others that you may be responsible for, even if the injuries do not happen on your property! Your home insurance can help cover the costs of legal fees, medical bills, work loss and pain and suffering if you are liable for someone else's injuries in an accident. There are some limitations, coverage does not extend to intentional acts, accicdents covered by auto (or other vehicle) insurance, or claims covered by worker's comp insurance. You are also bound by the limits on your individual policy and any exclusions that your insurance company may have listed, however, ski accidents are typically not excluded.
Make sure you carry high enough liability limits to protect your assets and future earnings. You don't want to find yourself at the wrong end of a lawsuit and have your insurance company tell you that there isn't enough coverage to pay for everything and the rest will be coming out of your pocket! Increase your medical coverage to $5,000 and your liability coverage to $500,000 to be on the safe side. If you do have to file a medical or liability claim, you will typically not be responsible for your deductible as deductibles don't apply to liability claims.
Hopefully, you never find yourself being sued or facing a situation where you are responsible for someone else's injuries. Luckily, I wasn't injured in my ski collision. Colton ran into me and suffered a broken leg, but things could have been much, much worse. If you're going skiing, play it safe and make sure you follow the National Ski Patrol's skier code of conduct.
- Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe all posted signs and warnings.
- Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.