What Are the Chances?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2016 | Injuries

If you’re not an experienced skier, the idea of someone gliding down a mountain on a pair of skis can seem frightening and dangerous. There are cases where skiing can indeed be a dangerous sport, but according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), getting killed while skiing is actually a rare thing.

According to the NSAA tallies over the past several years, there’s been an average of just under 40 qualifying skiing and snowboarding deaths each year, which total less than one for every million “official” skiers.

However, what constitutes as an official skier or snow boarder may be skewing statistics, and making the sport seem less dangerous than it really is. Also, the count from year to year can vary considerably with individual year totals in the last 10 years ranging from 22 to 45, with no clear trajectory showing either an improvement or a decline.

Reporting for the Recreational Skier

In an effort to represent the sport in a way that shows it as accurately as possible to the “typical” recreational skier, there are several types of accident victims that don’t make it into the official tallies when official counts are made.

Some of the slopes’ victims that don’t make the cut include ski resort employees who die on the job, those who die of a heart attack while on skis, those who participate in competitions, and those who die on the slopes after they have swayed off the official marked courses. In addition to these groups that are purposefully excluded, there are also potentially other accidents whose victims experience a delayed injury, such as a blood clot that may not hit until after a person has returned home.

While many of the exclusions may seem like they are accounting for extraordinary experiences, making a point to include them could have a real impact on the level of caution a typical skier might exercise when they hit the slopes.

It may make the occasional unwise adventurer think twice before veering off a approved path. It may also make someone who suffers from a heart condition rethink their own limits and check with their doctor before taking a trip.

For those who simply see their chance of being killed in a ski or snowboarding accident as less than one on a million, there may be a temptation to through caution to the wind.

Conflicts of Interest

One of the other concerns about NSAA reports is that they reflect statistics compiled by the skiing industry, not from any outside law enforcement. With a lack of objectivity, there is little to keep reports from being skewed to make the skiing industry look just a little safer than it is, and ultimately encourage more participants in the sport.

The Denver Post recently brought this problem to light, and the criticism has led to the NSAA seeking assistance from outside statistics in order to find a better way to present accident information in a way that would better encourage safe participation for anyone involved in the sport either casually or on a regular basis.

If you’ve been hurt on the slopes, or if a loved one has suffered a fatal injury while on a ski trip, while working at a resort, or even when involved in a competition, it is important that those injuries be taken seriously.

A personal injury attorney can discuss the nature of your injury and why it occurred and help you determine whether pursuing legal action and compensation is the right course of action for you and your family.

Attorney Chadwick P. McGrady at his desk