Are Ski Resorts Liable for Accidents?
It’s optimal ski weather all around Pennsylvania right now. Unfortunately, a day of skiing doesn’t always result in just good memories and improved ski skills. Sometimes, accidents happen. In fact, in early February of 2019, an Allentown man was in a fatal accident at Blue Mountain Resort. It was the second death at the ski resort this year.
In many cases when someone is injured or killed on someone else’s property, including a business such as Blue Mountain Resort, the property owner is often held liable for the accident. Those in skiing accidents however, are often shocked to learn suing ski resorts for these accidents is not always possible.
The Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act
Ski resorts are largely protected by Pennsylvania’s Skier’s Responsibility Act. This Act states that skiing is an inherently dangerous activity. As such, anyone partaking in this activity assumes a certain level of risk and therefore, cannot file a civil lawsuit against a ski resort for certain injuries.
The courts will likely rule in favor of a ski resort in these cases even when it’s proven there was negligence on the part of the ski resort. When a ski resort does not properly maintain their equipment such as ski lifts, or opens a particularly dangerous ski trail when they should have left it closed, the Act will still likely absolve the resort of any liability.
Although the Skier’s Responsibility Act does bar most civil lawsuits against ski resort owners, it does not do the same for other skiers that act negligently. Due to this, when a skier does not act in a reasonable manner to keep everyone on the slopes safe, and an accident occurs that results in injury, the negligent skier can be held liable.
For example, a person is skiing down a slope when an out-of-control skier quickly approaches them from behind. The out-of-control skier runs into the first skier and they are in an accident.
Afterwards, the first skier learns that he has a broken leg that will take months to heal. He could potentially file a lawsuit against the out-of-control skier that caused the accident.
Wrongful Death on the Slopes
The waivers ski resorts require skiers to sign before hitting the slopes is another form of protection resorts have in case any skier is in an accident. In the past, Pennsylvania courts have upheld these waivers, stating that when a person signs them, it is assumed that they read and understood the waiver and its terms.
However, that is not the case when an accident results in a wrongful death. This is because a person can only sign away their own rights . They cannot sign away the rights of others . In the case of a fatal accident on the ski hills, it is the family members that would file a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s also the family members seeking compensation. In this instance, the waiver had nothing to do with the rights of the family members and so, they could still possibly file a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, in the case of the Allentown man, a wrongful death lawsuit is likely not possible. The man died after falling over a snow jump. If the ski resort was not negligent, they cannot be considered liable for the accident.
Contact a Pennsylvania Premises Liability Lawyer About Complex Ski Resort Accident Cases
Unfortunately in most ski resort accident cases, the law favors the ski resort rather than the accident victim. However, after examining the circumstances of the accident, a premises liability attorney in Pennsylvania can often recover damages for accident victims .
If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a skiing accident, contact the experienced injury attorneys at van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin at 215-515-6892. These cases do present their own challenges, but that does not mean accident victims can never claim the compensation they are entitled to. Call us today and we’ll begin reviewing your case and advise you on the best course of action to take.
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