Factors that Affect Liability in a Snowboarding or Skiing Accident
During the cold winter months, one of the best ways to pass the time is by hitting the slopes for a day (or even a whole weekend) of skiing or snowboarding. Unfortunately, it’s very easy for even experienced skiers and snowboarders to get injured while they’re out having fun. Although skiing and snowboarding comes with certain dangers, that doesn’t necessarily mean that ski resorts are never liable for visitor injuries.
Skiing and snowboarding injuries can range from bruises and broken bones to spinal and brain injuries or even death. Since skiing and snowboarding involves certain inherent risks, ski resorts will generally try to use that as a defense to avoid being held liable. You may even see signs around the property or be required to sign a waiver stating something along those lines when you buy your pass. These types of disclaimers typically absolve the resort of liability for run-of-the-mill ski and snowboarding accidents and injuries. But if you’re injured at a ski resort, it’s important to consult a personal injury lawyer because laws about ski accidents vary from state to state and there are some situations where you might be able to sue for ski or snowboard injuries.
As a business open to the public, ski resorts have a legal responsibility to make sure their property is well maintained and reasonably safe for visitors. This is known as premises liability and if you believe you were injured because of a lack of maintenance, you may be able to sue for damages. When things like chairlifts and rental equipment aren’t properly maintained, it’s entirely possible for visitors to get hurt. Snow machines need to be kept out of the way so that people don’t accidentally collide with them. The owner of the resort also needs to make sure paths are well maintained so that they’re free of hazards that would make them unnecessarily dangerous for skiers or snowboarders. Paths need to be clearly defined so that visitors don’t accidentally find themselves on a trail that exceeds their skill level.
Employees of a ski resort must also act in a way that won’t put visitors in harm’s way. For example, if a beginner skier goes out on the slopes with an instructor, the instructor has a responsibility to make sure the student isn’t brought to any areas that are too challenging for them to handle. So if an instructor did something like bringing a beginner skier out onto a trail designed for advanced skiers, and the student got injured, that’s a situation where you might be able to file a claim against the resort.
Actions of Other Skiers
If you’re injured after colliding with another skier or snowboarder, the ski resort will most likely try to fight being held liable unless the person you collided with was an employee acting in a reckless way. But if the other skier you collided with was just another visitor who was behaving in a dangerous way, doing something that any reasonable person would see to be reckless, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the other skier or snowboarder.
For most types of businesses, owners have a duty to keep the property safe for all employees and invited guests and ski resorts are no exception. So if a person is injured on a property they were trespassing on, the owner of the property might not be liable for the trespasser’s injuries depending on the laws in your state.