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Legal insurance is also called for on the ski piste

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There is a surge in accidents on the piste in the winter ski season, and the number of related legal cases also increases for AXA-ARAG's legal protection insurance. A particularly large number of questions concern accidents involving third parties. Many skiers are not aware, for instance, that the burden of proof lies with the accident victim.

According to the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention BFU, around 60,000 Swiss skiers are injured in accidents on the piste every year. Compulsory accident insurance normally covers the financial consequences of these accidents, including treatment costs, compensation for loss of earnings or the cost of emergency transport to hospital. But what if another person has caused the accident? Or if the evidence is unclear? As most people have little experience of accidents, numerous uncertainties and questions can subsequently crop up, particularly if an accident results in a legal case. "Every year in the winter holiday period, we expect an increased number of customer queries and legal cases due to accidents on the piste", says Franziska Venghaus-Eisterer from AXA-ARAG Legal Protection Ltd.

Burden of proof lies with the accident victim

According to the BFU, around 90 percent of skiing accidents are self-inflicted, with the remaining 10 percent involving a third person. This is precisely when complex questions can arise that often take a long time to clarify afterwards and involve high consequential costs. For example, if the person who caused the accident was only on vacation in Switzerland for a brief period and has already gone home, or if it's not clear what happened exactly and who caused the accident. Of course, accident insurance is always liable for advance payment and covers the necessary cost of transportation to hospital and treatment costs. However, if a third person was responsible for the accident, there are a few cost points that can be requested from the liability insurance of the person who caused the accident. This could be actual damage to ski or snowboarding equipment, compensation for remaining physical and psychological injuries, but also the cost of paying for domestic assistance or childcare if the injured person is no longer able to perform these themselves.

The burden of proof for damage/injury lies with the injured party who must also be able to prove how the accident happened. "Many skiers on the piste are completely oblivious to such issues and are therefore unaware of all they should bear in mind if there's an accident", continues Franziska Venghaus-Eisterer.

Useful tips if you have an accident on the ski piste

To increase the chances of all questions being answered after a skiing accident, information on the circumstances leading to the accident is important. However, anyone injured on the piste is usually thinking of other things rather than insurance. To avoid unnecessary difficulties, here are the main tips from our AXA-ARAG legal protection experts:

  • Material used as evidence should help determine who caused the accident through what kind of behavior. If possible, take photos of the accident scene and ask for the addresses of witnesses. Some ski lift operators issue an accident report. The police should be called if there are serious injuries.
  • If a third person is involved, obtain their contact details and address. This way, any damage/injury not covered by accident insurance can be processed through the liability insurance of the person who caused the accident. However, the burden of proof for damage/injury lies with the injured party, therefore keep all documents and receipts of additional expenditure.
  • To make sure you behave properly on the piste and to minimize accidents, it's worth reading and following the FIS rules.

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