Law Firm Issues Ski Safety Warning
Specialist travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have urged holidaymakers to take care while on the ski slopes this winter.
The warning follows a number of serious injuries and fatal accidents involving skiers and snowboarders last winter.
Demetrius Danas, a specialist in skiing and snowboarding accidents at the law firm, listed the most common problems dealt with by the team:
- Collisions with other users of the slopes
- Faulty ski bindings or other equipment
- Ski lift staff and other slope users not following ski lift safety procedures
- Unsafe or incorrectly marked out routes
- Poor training or supervision from ski instructors
Mr Danas said: “Whilst it is important to stress that the majority of injuries sustained on the slopes are minor, when things do go badly wrong the impact that it has on the victims and their families both physically and emotionally can be devastating.
“This year we have seen a significant rise in people who have been very seriously hurt out on the slopes. As a firm, we are contacted day in and day out by people whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of injuries sustained through no fault of their own, and which could easily have been avoided.
“Some of our clients face a lifetime of painful physiotherapy and rehabilitation because of broken bones, seriously damaged ligaments and dangerous head and brain injuries.”
The law firm says that many of the injuries are so serious that they dramatically impact the sufferers’ day-to-day lives: Clive Wakeley, 49, was hit by a drunken ski instructor while on holiday in Bardonecchia, Italy.
Mr Wakeley, a Scotland Yard Officer, was left with a serious head injury and fell into a coma.
Nine months on, and despite months of rehabilitation, Mr Wakeley cannot speak, has lost the use of one arm, is confined to a wheelchair and has lost sight in one eye.
His wife, Joanne Wakeley, has had to give up her career in order to support and care for him.
Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are also acting for the family of Nigel Jackson who was killed while skiing on Mont Blanc.
Mr Jackson was skiing on a marked piste when the ground collapsed under him. His body was found the next day in a ravine, buried under five metres of snow.
It is thought that the poles were placed too close to the edge of the slopes.
Mr Danas said: “It is vital that holidaymakers are made aware of the potential dangers of winter sports. We are frequently asked to help in tragic cases like the Jackson family’s where independent suppliers have failed to provide adequate safety measures to protect their customers.
“When booking through a reputable travel agent or tour operator, holidaymakers should be more confident that their activity provider has relevant safety accreditation and adequate insurance.
“We urge all holiday makers booking trips to research the safety credentials of any activity providers extremely thoroughly. Recommendations by fellow tourists, locals or friends cannot take into account hidden risks.
“It’s also important that holidaymakers ensure they follow the rules of the slopes and the etiquette surrounding ski lifts. This should help prevent collisions with other people which can cause very serious injuries such as broken bones, ligament damage and head injuries.
“We just hope that lessons can be learned from highlighting the recent deaths and serious injuries to ensure that no other family should have to suffer in the same way in the future."