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Maintenance and safe operation important on ski lifts

While some people in West Virginia might think of ski lifts as dangerous devices, experts say that the ride to the ski resort in the car is actually riskier. However, that does not mean that accidents on ski lifts do not happen, and they may occur if ski lifts are not properly maintained or operated. From 1973 to 2011, 12 people had died as a result of ski lift malfunctions.

Most ski lift accidents aren't fatal, like one that occurred in Maine in 2010. Eight people were injured, including a man who had a compression fracture to his spine and was in a brace for six months recovering, when a cable left its tracks and several chairlifts plunged to the ground. While the exact cause of the malfunction was not identified, the lift was old and the maintenance manual was nowhere to be found. High winds were also a factor.

States regulate the safety of ski lifts. There is no central agency that tracks the age of ski lifts or their maintenance. One expert says that although lifts are built to last around 20 to 30 years, age does not necessarily make a lift unsafe as long as proper maintenance is carried out. Others point out the relatively low number of ski lift accidents considering how many people use them annually.

As the incident from Maine illustrates, an accident that is not fatal may still lead to serious injury and a long recovery period. If an accident of this type happens or a mishap occurs on the grounds of a business that is at fault, such as slip and fall accidents on wet floors, then the business might be liable. If the company's insurance does not adequately cover a person's expenses that were caused by the accident, it might be possible to file a lawsuit.

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