Denver Ski Lift Injury Attorneys
The Rockies tempt skiers and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world to the state of Colorado. While we have great skiing here, being on the slopes takes up only a portion of your time. Before heading out, you must take an aerial ski lift to your course – and any mechanical defect can end your trip then and there.
If a mechanical failure at one of Colorado’s 30 ski resorts caused you serious injury, we at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. want to hear from you. Please call (303) 759-9945 to speak to a top Denver product liability lawyer today. Resorts and their employees must be held accountable for faulty maintenance, unsafe lift operation, and other forms of negligence. Our top personal injury firm has the resources and experience to do it.
A ski lift is any form of conveyance used to transport skiers to the top of a trail or slope. They are motor-powered, with an endless chain or cable hoisting suspended chairs or gondolas (enclosed cabins) above the ground, supported by towers placed along the route up the mountain. There are chairlifts and tramways, also called “cable cars” or “ropeways.” These lifts use one or two stationary ropes to support the hanging chair or cabin while a third rope (the propulsion rope) moves it. The grip is fixed on the propulsion rope and cannot be fully decoupled during operation. However, if the other supports fail, the third rope may be overextended and snap, dropping the lift to the ground below.
So far, over a billion dollars have been spent to upgrade old lifts at various resorts around the country, but just one fatal accident shows that it’s not enough. We cannot allow people to perish because equipment is worn-out, or was never designed properly to begin with. These resorts do a lot of business at the height of the season and can afford to keep their guests safe – or pay the ones whom they don’t.
A malfunction on a chairlift can leave skiers stranded, sometimes for hours. However, more dangerous ski-lift malfunctions can drop riders onto the ground below. Serious injuries can also occur during loading and unloading, especially if the lift is moving too fast. Here are some potential dangers:
- Welding failure: If the parts are not welded together properly, or there is a defect in the materials used, the lift can detach, sending riders to the ground.
- Wire entanglement: Cables can become entangled with a chair or a gondola and cause mortal wounds to passengers. In extreme conditions, cabins or chairs can derail, dumping passengers over the side. Depending on the height of the lift, the fall can be fatal.
- Detachable quad lift failure: These “high-speed” chairlifts can seat four passengers but do not have the traditional “fixed grip.” This makes them much faster, and allows the resort to detach the chairs in the event of bad weather, which reduces stress and snow/ice buildup on the rope. However, the Colorado Passenger Tramway Board no longer allows Yan detachable lifts in particular after a death related to a detachable lift failure.
- Shaking or swaying lifts: One of our cases involved a Colorado ski resort that had been warned of a “dangerously swaying” chairlift, but the company did nothing. A short time later, one chair swung into a tower, and ejected a woman and her two daughters to the hard-packed snow 25 feet below. We filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of the woman’s husband, as well as injury claims on behalf of her two daughters, who survived but sustained critical injuries and serious emotional trauma.
- Improper loading: When guests – especially children – are not properly secured in a chairlift, they can easily slip out and fall, especially if the ride is turbulent. Children should not be placed in lifts designed specifically for adult, especially unsupervised. Currently, Colorado does not even require restraint bars on chairlifts.
Colorado does require ski resorts to reports falls from chairlifts to the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board. But this data is sorely lacking, as a group of Colorado moms recently found out. There may be thousands of unreported injuries, since ski resorts guard this information jealously (and are not required to report all of it), and only fatalities due to lift malfunctions are tracked by the National Ski Areas Association.
There are several parties who may be partly or wholly liable for what happened:
- A manufacturer of the ski lift or parts
- The ski resort
- The lift operator on duty
- A hired maintenance crew
Determining the true cause of the ski lift failure will take industry knowledge and an engineering background. Our legal team works with industry insiders, technical advisors, medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, and more.
If you’ve been injured at a ski resort, speak to an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer immediately. Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. has firsthand experience with ski-related litigation. Though many firms refuse to take cases against ski resorts due to the favored position they hold in Colorado, we firmly believe that any negligence that hurts another person is unacceptable.
If you would like to speak with a top trial lawyer at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. please give our Denver office a call at (303) 759-9945. There is no charge for an initial consultation, and if we take your case, we will front all costs to pursue a lawsuit. We only take payment for our services when we win our clients just compensation.