Wrongful death and immunity: Lawsuit settled in relation to skier’s death

City had unsuccessfully argued it was immune from wrongful death lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the death of a skier in Steamboat Springs in 2011 has been settled, according to the Steamboat Pilot and Today. The deceased man's family had argued the city of Steamboat Springs had created a dangerous condition for skiers by not properly roping off an off-limits area of a city-owned ski area. The city had argued it was immune from such a lawsuit, but in January a judge ruled against the city's argument for immunity.

Immunity denied

The tragic incident occurred in 2011 when a skier fell into deep snow and suffocated. The area where the incident occurred had been considered off-limits to skiers, but the plaintiff and defendant disagreed about whether skiers were adequately informed the area was unsafe.

The city, which owned the hill where the accident happened, argued it was immune from liability and the lawsuit should be thrown out. In January, however, according to ABC7 News, a judge refused to dismiss the case, saying the dangerous conditions created on the hill meant the city waived its immunity. The judge agreed with the family that the off-limits area of the hill had not been properly roped off.

Lawsuit settled

With its immunity waived, the city of Steamboat Springs chose to settle with the deceased man's family rather than appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. However, under the terms of the settlement, the city admits no liability for the death. The family's attorney praised the city's decision to opt for a settlement rather than try to drag out the appeals process for the deceased man's family.

Under Colorado law, even if a municipality waives its immunity, it can still only be ordered to pay a maximum amount of $150,000, which is the amount the city has agreed to pay under the terms of the settlement. The man's family recently testified in front of the state's General Assembly to have that limit raised. While the family was successful in raising the limit to $350,000, that new limit only applies to newer cases.

Personal injury and wrongful death

An accident that leads to a personal injury or, in some tragic circumstances, wrongful death can occur when a liable party fails to take adequate safety measures. The consequences for failing to adequately consider other people's safety can be catastrophic, as the above case shows.

Anybody who has suffered a personal injury, or who has a loved one who passed away due to the negligence of another party, should call a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can provide compassionate and expert advice for victims fighting to receive the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering.