Skiing helmets safe - or a false sense of security?

Michael Schumacher suffered serious head injuries when he hit a rock while he was skiing off piste in the French resort of Meribel on December 29th 2013. The impact of the crash smashed his helmet and he remained in a coma for six months.

The French police investigating Schumacher's incident concluded that all piste markers where properly in place and complied with regulations. Schumacher, an experienced skier, was traveling at a moderate speed; his skis were new; his bindings have been subsequently tested and were not at fault; he was fully in control of his movements as he left the marked pistes and traversed the patch of snow in-between two groomed runs in Meribel.

Schumacher hit a rock only slightly covered in snow and was catapulted into another rock hitting his head first with such force it smashed his helmet. Crucially he had a head cam fitted to the front of his helmet to film himself and his son skiing. It seems that the addition of this head cam may have weakened the structure of the helmet causing it to break. Potential liability against the helmet manufacturers and the Meribel ski resort may therefore be ruled out.

Having returned recently from a visit to the Austrian Alps it amazes me how many people are now skiing off piste - myself included.

I have for the first time worn a ski helmet. I seem to have been in the minority without one and certainly since the Schumacher incident the numbers wearing helmets have increased. What amazed me is the heightenedsense of security felt wearing a protective helmet, allowing me to ski faster without fear and off piste, I would not have skied so fast reaching speeds at one point of 101.2 kmph without a helmet.

So are they safe or a false sense of security?

I can certainly see adding a web cam, as this is screwed into a hole at the front of the helmet, could be a hazard.

Skiing is great fun and increasing in popularity but it is a risky sport, I counted 10 sets of crutches on our plane home and they are the walking wounded!

Currently Schumacher is being treated in a specially-built centre at his home by Lake Geneva. He was in a coma for six months after his accident and had two brain operations in Grenoble. He still faces a long road to recovery as reports emerged on his recent 46th birthday that he is beginning to recognise his family. We wish him well on his path to regaining some sort of normality and independence in his life.

Hilary Meredith, CEO at Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd