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VA Ski Resort Found Negligent in Skiing Accident Trial

A 17-year-old plaintiff was skiing at Wintergreen with friends. While skiing, she collided with a snow-grooming machine. She suffered a frontal lobe brain injury causing permanent brain damage and other injuries to her body.

VA ski resort found liable - Altizer Law P.C.

This lawsuit centered around the accusation against Wintergreen of failure to train employees to prevent accidents of this sort, of failure to light the two machines sufficiently, of failure to follow the resort’s own regulations with regard to snowmobiles and snow groomers when traveling on slopes that are open to skiers, and of failure to “exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.” Specifically, the case focused on the failure of the resort to post a warning sign at the top of the slope, and the policy of the resort not to post such warnings.

As presented by Plaintiff’s attorney, the young woman was skiing with two friends. They had been skiing all day. After a dinner break, they decided to ski the “Eagles Swoop” slope, ranked for intermediate skiers. Concurrently, the staff of the resort were transporting a snow groomer (a large machine somewhat like a large snow plow) up the side of the slope.

Plaintiff tried to turn, but fell and slid 90 feet into the machine’s blade. Attorneys for the resort claimed that Plaintiff was skiing too fast and out of control when she headed into the machine. Further, they pointed out that a warning snowmobile was accompanying the machine. Eyewitnesses, however, testified that her skiing was under control. They pointed out that the machine was not visible due to a blind spot. These eyewitnesses also stated that Plaintiff had been making turns immediately prior to the accident, which indicated that she was in control of herself and her skiing. They argued that a warning at the top of the slope would have heightened awareness of the hazard and prevented the incident.

Attorneys for the resort claimed that the machine was well lit and visible for a tenth of a mile. They also claimed that the young woman skied directly toward the machine despite warnings from the driver of the snowmobile. Wintergreen resort published an official statement which said, Plaintiff “was going so fast that veteran embers of Wintergreen’s staff were stunned . . . she fell and slid over 100 feet at high speed into the groomer.”

Plaintiff’s brain injury affected such functions as organizational skills, social appropriateness, judgement and motivation. At the time of the trial, Plaintiff was taking powerful medications. Her doctor indicated that she would need to stop taking the medications due to side effect. Plaintiff’s attorney argued that she would need financial support throughout her life. Her doctor indicated that “there are significant worries about her future.”

After a five-day trial, the jury deliberated for two-and-one-half hours. They returned a verdict for the Plaintiff in the amount of $8.3 million.

Many personal injury lawsuits are complex and involve contradictory assessments by both the defending party and the plaintiff. The attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C., have extensive experience in dealing with many types of personal injury cases, including cases of this kind. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another and through no fault of your own, call Altizer Law, P.C., to speak with the trusted attorneys who are compassionate with our clients, and relentless in pursuing justice for on their behalf.