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Copper Mountain Sledding Accident Leaves Two Teens Dead

Two teenagers visiting from Illinois were recently killed in a sledding accident on Colorado’s Copper Mountain, a tragic reminder of the risks that can come with hitting the slopes.

The teenagers, a 17- and 18-year-old from Prairie Central High School in Illinois, were on a spring break vacation at the time of the accident, CBS News reports. The pair reportedly were riding tandem down the halfpipe when they launched off a large snowbank at the bottom of the run. 

The teens were said to have struck their heads when they hit the ice below. They reportedly were pronounced dead on the mountain, which is about 78 miles west of Denver, after emergency medical responders were unable to revive them.

“As we get more people it is going to happen more, unfortunately,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons told CBS, referring to an uptick in visitors to Colorado mountains in winter months. “This was a tragic incident that happened last night that affected a community in the Midwest. It will be forever a dark place in their hearts.”

The teens were riding together in a single plastic sled, a practice reportedly banned by Cooper Mountain. They were sledding in an area of the mountain that was closed at the time, according to CBS.

“We’d ask our guests to please observe posted signs and warnings and not enter closed trails and areas,” Dustin Lyman, Copper Mountain’s president and general manager, said in a statement. 

It turns out that crashes like this are not all that uncommon. Some 1,500 people suffer traumatic injuries in skiing accidents in Colorado every ski season, according to data compiled by Safe Slopes Colorado.

Vail Settles Wrongful Death Claim Over Skier Accident

The fatal sledding crash on Cooper Mountain came the same week that the owner of another popular skiing destination resolved a lawsuit related to a death on the slopes.

Vail Resorts settled a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of a man who was killed in a chairlift accident, the Colorado Sun reports. 

The accident happened when a chairlift came around without its seat lowered, according to the news outlet. The man’s friend was knocked away, but the man’s jacket became snared in the chairlift.

The “46-year-old father of three from New Jersey was hanging from the chair about 10 feet off the ground just beyond the loading zone for about 8 minutes,” the Sun’s Jason Blevins reports. “His jacket wrapped around his torso and a coroner determined he died of positional asphyxiation.”

The terms of the settlement deal were not made public, according to the news outlet.

The skier’s family alleged that Vail did not properly train its rescue workers on how to evacuate a chairlift in the event of an emergency. They said the ski area operator did not live up to its responsibility under state law.

Vail countered that the man had signed a waiver and liability release as part of his lift ticket.

Colorado Ski Accident Laws

Ski accident cases often involve alleged violations of Colorado’s Ski Safety Act, the primary law governing liability on the slopes. 

The state law establishes certain safety requirements for ski area owners and operators. It generally makes ski resort operators liable for injuries on chairlifts and other accidents that are not related to the inherent dangers of skiing and snowboarding.

That said, the law also provides a significant shield for ski area owners and operators. It often allows these entities to get away with little or no liability in the event of an accident.

Colorado courts have generally found that skiing is inherently risky, meaning that owners and operators are not liable for a wide range of accidents. Amendments to the Ski Safety Act additionally state that skiers and snowboarders have a duty to ski or snowboard within their abilities.

Courts also have generally found that owners and operators can force skiers to waive some of their rights via the fine print on season passes and lift tickets.

The Colorado Ski Safety Act also caps wrongful death lawsuit claims at $250,000.

Injured in a Skiing Accident? Know Your Rights

Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a ski accident in Colorado has the right to seek compensation from those responsible, whether it is the resort owner, another skier, or a malfunctioning equipment manufacturer. 

Because these cases are complicated, it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner. At Levine Law, our attorneys have dedicated their careers to assisting people and families in Denver and across the state seeking compensation for their injuries.

The monetary damages typically available in Colorado accident cases are intended to help injured people get back in the financial position that they were in before an accident. Money for doctors’ bills, vehicle damage, missed wages and the impact of injuries on the person’s long-term earning capacity are all on the table.

In the tragic event that a person is killed in an accident, his or her loved ones can seek similar compensation for wrongful death

State law limits who can pursue a wrongful death case to spouses, children and parents. In the event that a person dies without a spouse, child or parent, the personal representative of his or her estate can sue for wrongful death.

A wrongful death claim will never allow you to replace a loved one or turn back the clock and stop a crash from happening. It can, however, ease some of the monetary strain that often comes with losing a family member.

Speak With a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a skiing, sledding or other accident in Colorado, an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer at Levine Law can help. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

Our lawyers are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver personal injury lawyer.

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