Fewer things are more exciting to skiers and snowboarders than carving down the slopes. But with that thrill comes all the risks inherently associated with rapidly sliding down a mountain. Utah law protects ski area operators from liability when skiers become injured due to these inherent risks, but the law does hold operators accountable for injuries caused to patrons by the operator’s own negligence.
Since the law doesn’t spell out exactly which party is liable in which cases, ski injury liability claims in Utah are decided on a case-by-case basis. If you have been injured in a ski accident, the lawyers at Eisenberg Cutt Kendell & Olson can help you determine whether you might quality for financial compensation and guide you through the claims process. In the meantime, here’s some clarification on Utah’s skiing liability laws.
The Utah Skier Safety Act
The Utah Skier Safety Act was passed in 2012 to provide clarification on ski injury liability in light of increasing numbers of tourists to Utah’s popular ski resorts. The Act made it easier for ski area operators to purchase liability insurance from carriers at reasonable rates, eliminating the previously exorbitant rates charged to resorts because of the law’s ambiguity. The Skier Safety Act established that skiers do indeed face inherent risks, and they cannot recover damages from the resort operator for injuries resulting from these inherent risks.
So how does the court define an “inherent risk”? The Act established these inherent risks as any dangers or conditions associated with recreational, competitive, or professional skiing (or snowboarding, tubing, etc.) at Utah ski areas. It says that operators can’t be held liable for injuries stemming from such things as changing weather conditions, poor snow quality, hazardous terrain (such as bare patches, trees, or lift towers on slopes), collisions with other skiers, skiers attempting to ski beyond their ability, etc.
Operators aren’t off the hook entirely, though. Generally, if risk could have been eliminated with reasonable care by the operator, it will not be considered an “inherent risk”, and the operator could potentially be held liable. That being said, it’s important to consult a Utah personal injury attorney if you’ve been injured in a ski accident to determine where the fault lies, because resorts may be held liable for injuries that occur as a result of negligence or failure to warn skiers of certain dangers. Your personal injury lawyer can recommend a course of action to determine whether the ski area should be held legally responsible for the injury.