Can a Ski Resort Be Held Liable for Personal Injury After a Skiing Accident?

Updated: Jan 12

Skiing and snowboarding can be wonderful ways to stay in shape and enjoy the Vermont winter. But both carry risks to the participants involved. Beyond regular injuries, such as tearing your ACL (the most common ski injury), you could potentially sustain life-threatening injuries if you’re hurt by a reckless individual on the slopes, faulty terrain, or a number of other factors that have nothing to do with how well you’re traversing your chosen ski resort.

If you’re injured while skiing or snowboarding, you should contact a ski accident lawyer immediately. If you’re hurt, a ski injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and potentially win compensation which can help you pay for medical bills or cover you for time lost at your job in the event that you’re no longer able to work. A good attorney can help you see if the ski resort where you got injured can be held liable, though it’s often difficult to prove. In this article we’ll discuss the reasons why proving a ski resort is at fault is difficult under Vermont law, and what this means for you should you sustain injuries at one.

Here are the 3 things you should know if you’ve been injured at a ski resort:

  1. Vermont Legislature Favors the Ski Industry

  2. You Assume ‘Inherent Risks’ When Deciding To Ski

  3. Ski Resorts Can Still Be Held Liable If There’s Gross Negligence

1. Vermont Legislature Favors the Ski Industry

Everything changed for skiing in Vermont approximately 42 years ago with the landmark case of Sunday v. Stratton Corp. James Sunday, a 21-year-old, sustained injuries while skiing on a bunny slope after a bush hidden under snow caught his ski and he fell, resulting in permanent quadriplegia. He alleged that the resort had failed to properly maintain its trails and give notice of possible dangers. A jury awarded him $1.5 million in damages, saying that the resort had neglected to keep its bunny slope clear of hazards.

After this case, Vermont legislature passed an ‘inherent risks’ law, which was intended to protect the ski industry from facing similar lawsuits and expensive settlements.

Did You Know?

  • Vermont law requires any person involved in a collision with a skier at a ski area that results in bodily injuries to provide his or her name and address to the injured.

  • A one-year statute of limitations exists in Vermont for filing a case involving injury or death at a ski resort. Filing after one year will cause you to forfeit your right to compensation. Don’t wait to file! Contact an experienced attorney today.

2. You Assume Inherent Risks When Deciding To Ski

In many cases of injury, liability falls on the skier or snowboarder, not the ski resort. Vermont law (Title 12, Section 1037 of the Vermont Statutes) states that “a person who takes part in any sport accepts as a matter of law the dangers that inhere therein insofar as they are obvious and necessary.” This means that it may not be possible to hold the ski area, owners, and/or employees responsible if you get into an accident while skiing. Further, § 1038 says that if you get into an accident at a resort while skiing off-trail, the ski area, owners, and/or employees can not be held responsible for your injuries, while you could be held responsible for all costs associated with your rescue.

3. Ski Resorts Can Still Be Held Liable If There’s Gross Negligence

However, the inherent risks and assumption of danger that participants abide by do not completely exempt ski resorts from culpability. Resorts still may be held liable in instances where they create risk beyond what is normal for the sport. The skier or snowboarder must prove that the ski resort exhibited negligence and put the injured parties at risk i.e. in the aforementioned case where a bush was not removed from the slope.

If you were hurt at the resort while not on the slopes, the rules of ‘inherent risks’ do not apply, and you might be able to prove that the resort was at fault if you can prove true negligence. For example, if you slip in the resort’s restaurant due to a spilled drink that wasn’t cleaned up, you might be able to prove that the resort was liable. Injuries that occur while riding a chair-lift or gondola have totally different rules because the ski resort is responsible for maintaining the equipment in safe order.

Contact a Legal Expert to Help You Win the Compensation You Deserve

If you’ve been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, you’ll have to prove fault of another person, the ski resort, or potentially both. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you figure out your best chance of winning your case and possibly compensation for your bodily and emotional injuries.

Were you in a skiing or snowboarding accident? We can help.

Contact MGL!

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Meub Gallivan & Larson, Attorneys, PLC 
P.O. Box 811-05702
65 Grove Street 
Rutland, VT 05701 

Meub Gallivan & Larson, Attorneys, PLC is committed to serving Rutland, Vermont and the surrounding communties.





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