Rules of the Run
Special Report: Rules of the Run
Many skiers and snowboarders enjoy these winter sports just purely for the thrill. "I just like going fast," says Jacob.
"Itís just a rush," agrees Jake.
However, many recognize that all this winter fun is sometimes accompanied by accidents. "I accidentally hit a girl who was snowboarding," admits Alissa.
"I hit my sister and my dad," Jake sympathizes. But Nathan explains that sometimes, on the slopes, there is give and take: "They got hurt and I hurt them."
Experts say many skiers have no idea that theyíre responsible for accidents they cause on the slopes.
Attorney Jim Chalat explains some of the charges skiers could face. "Weíve seen 60, 90, to 6 months in jail," he says.
But the law is clear: If you hurt someone skiing, youíre the one who will wind up paying their bills.
"Medical expenses, the lost time from work, pain and suffering, and damages for permanent impairment. So it's just like a car accident case," Chalat says.
And thatís if youíre skiing in control. If the courts decide you were being reckless, you could face serious criminal penalties as well.
Chalat gives examples of behavior the courts could consider reckless. "Skiing way too fast, ignoring slow skiing signs," he says.
Just last week, a 16-year-old snowboarder was charged with manslaughter after he hit and killed 28-year-old Heather Donahue of Shrewsbury at a Wyoming ski resort. And the same thing could happen here in New England.
"There are laws on the book for every state that would allow for a negligent homicide or a reckless manslaughter case to proceed," Chalat says.
The resorts we talked to said they take reckless skiing very seriously, and do everything they can to keep guests safe. This includes policing the mountain with ski patrols, offering special slow ski areas for beginners, and kicking out those who they catch skiing out of control.
Tom Day, the General Manager at Waterville Valley, describes the policy at the New Hampshire resort. "We'll take their pass and escort them off the mountain," he says.
But they say, at the end of the day, itís up to each and every skier to abide by the rules.
"We create a safe environment, but the people out skiing and riding should know that they are responsible for handling themselves properly and there are consequences," Day cautions.
So when you hit the slopes, have fun, but stay safe and watch out for others. Or a day on the slopes, could end up a day in court.
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