Colorado Ski Law


If you were injured in a skiing, snowboarding, or ski lift accident in Colorado, we may be able to help you recover money damages against the wrongdoer. We have represented injured skiers and snowboarders in Colorado for over 35 years. 

The senior partner in the firm, Jim Chalat, has been a leader in the field, publishing numerous articles and case notes regarding ski law.  A small newsletter titled “Ski Safety News,” was a precursor to later online publications.  Jim also authored the authoritative summaries in American Jurisprudence (“AmJur”) Chalat, “Liability of Skier for Collision with Another Skier,” 46 Am Jur Proof of Facts 3d 1.  Chalat, “Liability of Ski Area Operator for Skiing Accident,” 45 Am Jur Proof of Facts 3d 115.

Chalat has also led Continuing Legal Education classes in Colorado recreational accident law. He has also lectured at the Harvard Law School.  The slide deck for that lecture is linked here.

Chalat has been lead counsel in numerous precedent setting skier accident cases. These include skier collision cases, lift accident cases, ski area operator snowmobile versus skier cases, and in litigating issues relating to waivers and releases which are now incorporated into season lift passes and lift tickets.

Chalat Hatten & Banker, PC is the most experienced Colorado law firm in ski cases.

Keep reading on this page for help in understanding Colorado ski law and for insights gained from our experience. Several of our articles and notes are attached if you wish to dig deeper.  If you choose to call us for a no-obligation/free consultation, please fill out and submit a contact form or call us on our main line at 303.861.1042. We will listen to your story and help you if we can. If it is an emergency, please call Jim Chalat on his cell at 303.882.4781.  If he cannot pick up right away, he will forward your message to a partner at the firm. All the lawyers in the firm have extensive experience in representing injured skiers or snowboarders. The consultation is free, even if it is time-consuming and if we need to read records you have about the possible case. We are accessible to answer your questions even if you aren’t sure yet if you want to hire a lawyer; or if you want to hire other lawyers.  The choice of your lawyer is solely your decision.


Colorado Ski Law history

Skiers may recover for the negligence of another skier from that skier. Skiers and boarders’ responsibilities in Colorado areas are defined by the Colorado Ski Safety Act. Under the Ski Act, uphill skiers have the primary duty to yield to skiers below, merging skiers have to yield to skiers already on the trail, and all skiers are required to ski within their ability and refrain from acting in a manner which may cause or contribute to the injury of another skier. Cases are fact-specific.

Colorado CHARLIFT accident Law

If you have been injured while loading, unloading or riding a chairlift or rope tow, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for your injuries.

Ski area operators have strong protections written into the law, but the protections are not without limits. A ski area does have legal responsibilities related to the operation of chairlifts, snow grooming equipment, snowmobiles, and the placement and padding of man-made objects and boundaries. In 1995, the Colorado Supreme Court held that “Skiing is a dangerous sport. Ordinary understanding tells us so, and the legislature has recognized the dangers inherent in the sport. Not all dangers that may be encountered on the ski slopes, however, are inherent and integral to the sport, and this determination cannot always be made as a matter of law.” Graven v Vail, 909 P.2d 514 (Colo. 1995).

Are skier/snowboarder collision cases barred by waiver?

Typically not.  The ski pass waiver and/or assumption of risk language on a lift ticket do not immunize other skiers or riders from liability.  Except in the rare case where you are run down by a ski area employee in the course of his/her duties, the liability waiver on your season pass or the assumption of risk language on your lift ticket do not protect the other skier from responsibility and liability.

Can claims against the Operators of a ski area be barred by waiver?

Colorado courts will enforce clauses releasing parties from liability for injury or damages so long as the clause is not contrary to public policy. Generally, specific agreements absolving participants and proprietors from negligence liability during hazardous recreational activities, such as skiing or snowboarding, are enforceable, subject to willful misconduct limitations.

But, even in cases where you signed a season pass, you may not have waived all of your rights. For example, the language of a waiver must specifically address the circumstances of your injury and, thereby show that you were specifically made aware of and agreed to assume this risk. To see whether or not you might have a claim for your ski lift accident, call or email now for a free consultation. We are always happy to answer your questions even if you aren’t sure yet if you want to hire a lawyer.

How do you prove fault?

You can help us in the early stages with the evidence in the case.  Here are some items that are helpful:


Usually sooner is better than later, so that we can get evidence which is still fresh and before people move or become unavailable. The statute of limitations is a technical legal term for the deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed, or the claims are barred as untimely.  The statute of limitations for a ski case is typically two years.

Venue and Jurisdiction

Typically, we bring collision cases in Colorado State District Courts.  For instance, an accident at Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, or A-Basin would be brought in the Summit County District Court.  An accident at Vail or Beaver Creek would be filed in Eagle County District Court.  An accident at the Aspens would be filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Safety Considerations

In addition to the basics of skiing in control, avoiding collisions with things or people, keeping a lookout, here are some basic safety considerations for skiers and riders:

Snowboarders, in addition to the above:

All Skiers and riders: