As a law firm located in Bludenz in the western Austrian alpine state of Vorarlberg, we are specialists for legal disputes concerning skiing-, snowboarding- or tobogganing accidents (or alpine accidents in general) and are able to offer optimal support to our clients in regulating questions of liabilty for fault, compensation claims, lawsuits or acting as defence counsel following collisions. Furthermore we have relevant experience in counselling and representation following accidents as a result of inadequate ski piste conditions or bad preparation of the slopes. We also advise and represent clients from abroad and mediate between them andthe Austrian authorities and courts and well as with their local lawyer in their home countries.
Alpine and skiing accidents in the alpine regions are a major concern
Skiing accidents constitute about a third of all sports accidents in the alpine countries where up to 30 million winter sports’ enthusiasts are on the move on skis. In Austria that amounts to about 65.000 skiers per year considering about 9 million skiers. Approximately 40 people die in skiing accidents each year in Austria.
According to a survey of the Austrian Road Safety Board about 80% of all accidents result from perception and maneuvering errors whereby, above all, the serious injuries are often caused by collision accidents.
With regard to partial or predominant third party fault, the question of liability concerning not only personal damages but also losses of property, plays a major role. In many cases the question of fault has to be resolved by a court.
Which national law applies to accidents in a skiing area?
If EU- foreign nationals are involved in an accident, according to EU regulation (Rome iii) Austrian Law shall apply if the occurrence or the indirect subsequent damage took place in Austria. The responsibility for dealing with the case of damages lies with the Court in whose judicial district the accident occurred.
Help in settling the question of liability following skiing and alpine accidents
If the case is dealt with according to Austrian law then the following is applicable: as there are basically no specific rules and regulations governing skiing, the Austrian courts (as in many other countries) turn to the reglations of the so-called FIS (International Ski Federation) or POE (draft piste rules of the Austrian Board of Alpine Security). While these rules are no valid legal norms, they are of considerable importance according to jurisdiction as a summary of duties of care which have to be observed in the interest of all parties when exercising skiing sports today.
Our expert on the subject of skiing law in Austria
Our partner, Dr. Stefan Müller, who grew up in Zürs in the Arlberg alpine region, where his partents own a hotel, is a certified ski instructor and ski guide and has represented parties involved in skiing accidents for many years. As a member of the “SKILEX INTERNATIONAL”, an association of jurists who specialize in legal problems related to the sports’ area and in particular international skiing law.
Thereby he is able to practise an intensive exchange of ideas with jurist colleagues from the typical Alpine countries such as France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria.