Things to consider before you go on that Skiing holiday
Recent high profile cases such as that of Michael Schumacher have raised the profile of Skiing and safety issues. However, whether there is going to be any snow or how deep it will be should not be your only concern before you hit the slopes this winter. Where you book your ski pass could be a big problem if things go wrong.
If you have an accident on a ski slope, your travel insurance should cover your hospital costs and the cost of flying you home – but what about compensation or loss of earnings? If the accident is caused by poorly maintained runs or defective lifts, it will be difficult to recover these losses if you bought your ski pass abroad.
Thousands of people buy their ski passes when they arrive in their resorts, however, if you buy your ski pass abroad, any claim for compensation is made in that country and this can be fraught with difficulty – different language, different legal system, often less favourable levels of damages if, indeed, damages are recoverable at all.
In the U.K. any liability for negligence for personal injury or death cannot be excluded by a contract term or notice. However not every country has this law. Countries such as Canada allows companies to contract out of this liability. This is often printed on the back of your ski pass. In these circumstances, if you were to have an accident then you would not be able to recover any compensation.
Under the Package Travel and Package Tour Regulations 1992 a right was given to individuals to sue the tour operator in the U.K. for the negligence of its foreign suppliers or agents.
In order to be able to do this you must have brought a package holiday. A package holiday consists of at least two components. This could be transport, accommodation or other "tourist service" such as a tour guide, excursion or ski pass. If any of these suppliers are negligent or break the contract then the holidaymaker can sue the operator.
When tour operators sell a ski pass as part of a pre-booked package, they provide access to the resort's lift system and slopes and are responsible for their state and condition.
So, when an injury occurs on an unsafe, icy, patchy run, or on a poorly maintained lift, the ski pass pre-booked in the U.K. gives you the right to claim compensation directly against the U.K. tour operator. Legally, they have failed to provide safe facilities.
Holidaymakers should make sure they buy a ski pass in the U.K. and this will give peace of mind before setting off down that slippery slope.
Trethowans LLP are specialists in dealing with international insurance and personal injury cases.