As thousands went off for half-term breaks last week, Irwin Mitchell continues to witness the devastating effects of injuries caused by insufficient safety measures; falls from lifts and collisions on the slopes.
The National Ski Areas Association found that there are, on average, 40 fatalities per year relating to winter sports. Many countries don’t announce such figures, however it has also been found that there were 38 serious injuries in the 2009/10 ski season in America alone.
Although these figures show an improvement on statistics from previous years, lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are urging tour operators to keep safety at the forefront of operations.
Demetrius Danas, an Irwin Mitchell solicitor and specialist in skiing and snowboarding accidents, said: “The figures show that safety around skiing and snowboarding is getting better as a result of better equipment, more people wearing helmets and wearing protective clothing and better safety standards at the resorts. However much more can be done to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries.
“We’re urging tour operators and resorts not to be complacent, as accidents still happen and the results can be devastating for the people involved and their families. We’re still seeing clients coming to us with serious injuries caused by a lack of safety barriers, inadequate marking of ski pistes, insecure chair lifts or collisions with other skiers or snowboarders, who haven’t had sufficient training.
“These cases often highlight serious failings from which important lessons can be learned so that the same mistakes might be prevented in the future. We’ll only see proof of these lessons when we’re not contacted with repeat cases.
“My advice for anyone going away on a winter break is to go well-prepared and to take out a quality holiday insurance policy that will ensure they’re fully covered for medical treatment if the worst does happen.”
Demetrius urged holidaymakers to check the safety credentials of holiday providers as personal recommendations cannot account for hidden dangers. He went on to say: “If the correct safety procedures are in place and holidaymakers follow the rules of the slopes and the ski lift etiquette then they should avoid falls and collisions with other people and immovable objects which can cause very serious injuries such as broken bones, ligament damage and head injuries.”
The specialist travel law team at Irwin Mitchell see many clients whose lives have been tragically altered by injuries that were sustained through no fault of their own and that could so easily have been avoided.
Ian Kelwick was an experienced snowboarder who suffered bruising, broken ribs and a back injury after he was hit at speed by a friend who skied directly into him.
Ian, who is a lecturer at the University of Hull, was on holiday at the time. He was forced to take 2 months off work and received a four figure settlement to fund rehabilitation following the accident that left him unconscious.
Due to being disabled, Simon Keeble was using sit-ski when he fell from a chairlift, suffering catastrophic injury.
It was found that care had not been taken when seating Simon, and that the safety bar could not be lowered.
Simon suffered serious injuries to his pelvis and knee causing him to need a full hip replacement and leaving him unable to return to his job as a journalist.
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