Georgia skiers know they are at risk for fall injuries each time they hit the slopes, but how many ski enthusiasts consider the dangers of ski lifts? Though statistics show ski lift accidents are rare, they can cause severe injuries when they occur.

For example, an aging ski lift failed at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine in December 2010, injuring six people. Accident victims told the media that the lift started and stopped multiple times before the accident, and a maintenance worker was seen climbing a lift tower to try to fix a crooked wheel assembly. Despite the worker’s efforts, a cable popped out of its track, and five ski lift chairs dropped onto the snowy mountain. Other chairs carrying 150 skiers were left bouncing in the air.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, 12 people died in ski lift accidents between 1973 and 2011. Four people died in a Vail, Colorado, accident in 1976, and four others were killed in a Squaw Valley, California, incident in 1978. Experts say that ski resort owners are responsible for properly maintaining their ski lifts and carefully training staff. The 35-year-old ski lift involved in the Sugarloaf accident was so old that the original maintenance manual had been lost. The unit was replaced with a new $3 million quad-chair lift in 2011.

Ski lift accidents are preventable and could be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit filed against the ski resort owners and management. People who have been injured in such an accident could seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and all other related damages through such a civil action filed with the assistance of counsel.

Source: Claims Journal, “Ski Experts: Riding in Car Riskier Than Ski Lift,” David Sharp, Dec. 28, 2011