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Staying Safe on The Slopes this Winter

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It’s that time of year again. And whilst you probably think I’m referring to Christmas, I’m actually referring to the beginning of the ski season.    

 On the whole, it’s been a fairly mild winter so far in the UK and apparently that has also been the case in the well known European ski resorts of France and Austria where most Brits tend to ski. I saw on the news one evening this week that the unusually warm autumn has left many ski slopes bereft of snow.

 Whilst I am not here to predict the weather forecast, I am reliably informed that snow will be on its way soon and whilst that may be news some don’t want to hear, it’s great for those people who have booked or are looking to go on a skiing holiday.

 Nobody needs to be reminded that skiing is a dangerous sport. It’s almost one year since Michael Schumacher’s tragic accident which left him in a critical condition with serious injuries. One year on, he remains in a coma and requires round the clock support.

 Two weeks ago on 22nd November 2014, our own Charlie Guest, the British number one slalom skier, fractured her back whilst training in Sweden after landing on a boulder despite wearing a back protector, which she now wants to see introduced as a compulsory safety measure for all skiers. Both Schumacher and Guest are experienced skiers and clearly skiing accidents can happen to anyone no matter how qualified or experienced. Whilst there is no suggestion that these two incidents I have mentioned are anything but unfortunate accidents, there is a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of a skier, for example, appropriate training should be provided and the piste should be fit for skiing on. Often, here in the UK, we book skiing holidays as part of a “package,” namely, we book a flight, hotel and a number of days skiing through a travel agent.

 If you have suffered an accident skiing abroad, you may be entitled to bring your claim in the Court of England and Wales under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 as long as you booked your holiday as a “package.” What does and what doesn’t constitute a package can be technical but seek independent legal advice and let your solicitor worry about that!

 If you are planning on going on a skiing holiday, whilst it seems obvious, ensure you have the appropriate travel insurance to cover you in the event you are injured and need medical attention. And remember to take your European Health Insurance card (EHIC) with you.

 Lastly, bearing in mind the possibility that the weather stays mild and there isn’t enough snow whilst you are away, when searching for appropriate travel insurance, it may be worth considering what activities you may do if you can’t ski and ensure that these are covered under the policy.