Utah has the greatest snow on earth and the ski resorts here are second to none in the world. However, many individuals each year are seriously injured on the slopes. In some cases ski accidents occur because the ski resort was negligent. While there is an obvious huge assumption of risk involved with skiing, and the sport is clearly inherently dangerous, under some circumstances the resort may be held liable for accidents they cause. The information below is provided as general information and anyone injured in a ski accident in Utah should consult with a Salt Lake Personal Injury Laweyer at Christopher Gerald now. Below is a brief summary of some of the general principles regarding ski accident liability:
78B-4-403. Bar against claim or recovery from operator for injury from risks inherent in sport.
Notwithstanding anything in Sections 78B-5-817 through 78B-5-823 to the contrary, no skier may make any claim against, or recover from, any ski area operator for injury resulting from any of the inherent risks of skiing.
(1) “Inherent risks of skiing” means those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of the sport of recreational, competitive, or professional skiing, including, but not limited to:
(a) changing weather conditions;
(b) snow or ice conditions as they exist or may change, such as hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, or machine-made snow;
(c) surface or subsurface conditions such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, trees, and other natural objects;
(d) variations or steepness in terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, and other terrain modifications such as terrain parks, and terrain features such as jumps, rails, fun boxes, and all other constructed and natural features such as half pipes, quarter pipes, or freestyle-bump terrain;
(e) impact with lift towers and other structures and their components such as signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, or water pipes;
(f) collisions with other skiers;
(g) participation in, or practicing or training for, competitions or special events; and
(h) the failure of a skier to ski within the skier’s own ability.
78B-4-404. Trail boards listing inherent risks and limitations on liability.
Ski area operators shall post trail boards at one or more prominent locations within each ski area which shall include a list of the inherent risks of skiing, and the limitations on liability of ski area operators, as defined in this part.
Decisions Defining Statute
Fact that injury is occasioned by one or more of dangers listed in inherent risk of skiing statute’s definition of “inherent risk of skiing” does not foreclose claim against operator of ski area based on operator’s negligence; list of dangers is nonexclusive and relates to dangers that are integral aspects of sport of skiing, and definition is intended to ensure that operators provide skiers with sufficient notice of risks they face when participating in sport of skiing as well as operators’ liability in connection with such risks. Clover v. Snowbird Ski Resort, 1991, 808 P.2d 1037.
If risks which skiers do not wish to confront, such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, and structures, can be eliminated by reasonable care, such risks do not constitute “inherent risks of skiing” under statute precluding negligence claims against ski resort operators based on such risks; if risks cannot be eliminated by use of reasonable care, statute requires operator to warn patrons of risks. White v. Deseelhorst, 1994, 879 P.2d 1371.
Breach of Duty
Utah Inherent Risks of Skiing Act does not bar suit by ski resort operator’s patron where operator has breached legal duty owed to patron; legitimate claims of negligence against ski resort are not prohibited by Act. Ghionis v. Deer Valley Resort Co., Ltd., 1993, 839 F.Supp. 789.
Determination of Bar
To determine whether inherent risks of skiing statute applies to bar negligence claim against ski resort operator, court must decide whether particular risk which allegedly caused injury was integral part or essential characteristic of sport of skiing; if not, statute does not apply. White v. Deseelhorst, 1994, 879 P.2d 1371.
Material issue of fact as to whether ski resort operator could have alleviated hazard of unmarked “cat track” on blind side of ridge through exercise of ordinary care precluded summary judgment for operator in negligence action by injured skier. White v. Deseelhorst, 1994, 879 P.2d 1371.
Material fact issue existed as to whether chef employed by ski resort was acting within scope of his employment at time of skiing accident, which occurred after chef had checked on one of resort’s restaurants as requested, precluding summary judgment for resort on accident victim’s claim under doctrine of respondeat superior. Clover v. Snowbird Ski Resort, 1991, 808 P.2d 1037.
Material fact issues existed in connection with accident victim’s claims against ski resort for negligent design and maintenance, precluding summary judgment for resort. Clover v. Snowbird Ski Resort, 1991, 808 P.2d 1037.
Material fact issues existed in connection with accident victim’s claim that ski resort was negligent in supervising employee who purportedly caused victim’s skiing injuries, precluding summary judgment for resort. Clover v. Snowbird Ski Resort, 1991, 808 P.2d 1037.