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Denver Post is doing a series of stories on accidents and risk in CO ski areas - Page 8

post #211 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

Not that I agree with your reasoning for making the statement but didn't you call me disingenuous for suggesting that law enforcement might have ties to the resorts that could affect the reporting?

 

You had suggested that the Sheriff's deputies would be employees of the resort.  At the enforcement level vs the political office holder level, the deputies would much more professional and independent than the ski area employees who are the current arbiters of "facts".

 

Additionally even though the Sheriff would likely try to interfere given his extreme political views, the Sheriff's department has to operate with a level of public transparency that is orders of magnitude greater than the totally opaque ski area's self reporting.

post #212 of 236
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

 

Well, for one, I do, and the State of Colorado does.  If you hit and injure somebody on the (Colorado) ski slope, where the other person had the right of way, you can absolutely draw criminal charges AND get slapped with a lawsuit.  In that sense, its really not any different than hitting them with a car.  Furthermore, there have been cases where minor children have hit and injured people on a Colorado slope, and their parents have been found liable for damages.

 

The Colorado Ski Safety act absolves the ski area of liability under many/most situations, but there is nothing in the law releasing individuals from liability.  Just like in the case of traffic accidents- you can't sue the government/entity that built the road just because somebody happened to hit you on it, but the person that hit you bears the responsibility.

 

"Inherently dangerous" does not mean that the individual, creating danger through their own reckless actions, is off the hook.

 

I think if more people understood this, they would approach their day on the slope differently, and perhaps would think twice about their choices to ski out of control on crowded slopes.

 

Yes,  there are similarities, but not so much in the context of this discussion, which is about the ski areas' responsibility. Anyone can sue anyone else. Long live the USA.

post #213 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagles Pdx View Post

 

You had suggested that the Sheriff's deputies would be employees of the resort.  At the enforcement level vs the political office holder level, the deputies would much more professional and independent than the ski area employees who are the current arbiters of "facts".

 

Additionally even though the Sheriff would likely try to interfere given his extreme political views, the Sheriff's department has to operate with a level of public transparency that is orders of magnitude greater than the totally opaque ski area's self reporting.

I never suggested that the Sheriff's deputies would be employees of the resort. I'm pointed out that without the resorts most of their towns wouldn't exist and as such they are likely to favor them to a degree. That's not to say they would blatantly cover something up but in an ambiguous case they would favor the resort. It's the same principal as to how the local police are more likely to let off a tourist with a warning for some offense then a local. They don't care about the local complaining but they don't want to chase away tourists by appearing too "strict" 

post #214 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

I never suggested that the Sheriff's deputies would be employees of the resort. I'm pointed out that without the resorts most of their towns wouldn't exist and as such they are likely to favor them to a degree. 

The idea that having professional law enforcement doing accident and injury reports is going to close the ski areas is about the same as suggesting enforcement of driving rules is going to shut the car industry.

 

Quite the opposite. If people are confident that that resorts enforce safety regs, that the resorts are responsible and they hold other skiers responsible more people would be likely to go skiing.

post #215 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagles Pdx View Post

The idea that having professional law enforcement doing accident and injury reports is going to close the ski areas is about the same as suggesting enforcement of driving rules is going to shut the car industry.

 

Quite the opposite. If people are confident that that resorts enforce safety regs, that the resorts are responsible and they hold other skiers responsible more people would be likely to go skiing.

 

I have observed that the level of "professional" in law enforcement varies considerably.

 

As to your second statement. I don't think you are correct. MONEY would be the primary thing that keeps people from skiing.


Edited by Rossi Smash - 3/27/13 at 5:36pm
post #216 of 236

So don't know if anyone noticed, but dschreit, with 7 posts recently here (see SW airlines baggage thread), was killed this past weekend at Snowmass:

 

http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/326071/346/Skier-who-died-after-hitting-tree-at-Snowmass-IDd

 

 

Condolences to David's loved ones. Very sad.

post #217 of 236

How terrible. RIP

post #218 of 236
Thread Starter 

Wow, that is so weird. I was out of town and read that online, and the first thing I thought was, I wonder if he posted on epic ever? Then I thought, That's silly, that would be too much of a coincidence. I guess not. Terrible news, regardless, but it does feel more strange than usual when it's someone from here.

post #219 of 236

Regarding the Denver Post article series being discussed here, we've collected and posted responses from various industry organizations, including the company I work for, Colorado Ski Country USA, on our blog here: http://blog.coloradoski.com/. Thank you for hearing our side of the story. 

post #220 of 236

Thanks for the link Jennifer.

post #221 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post

I have observed that the level of "professional" in law enforcement varies considerably.

And your point would be enforce no laws because of your "observation"?
post #222 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenniferRudolph View Post

Regarding the Denver Post article series being discussed here, we've collected and posted responses from various industry organizations, including the company I work for, Colorado Ski Country USA, on our blog here: http://blog.coloradoski.com/. Thank you for hearing our side of the story. 

 

Thanks for the link.

 

Very good response. However, the only issue I wish the blog would have discussed was how the waivers for pass holders are different than ticket holders. I anticipate waivers for just about anything nowadays. But an explanation rationale behind the variation would be beneficial.

post #223 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by rx2ski View Post

 

Thanks for the link.

 

Very good response. However, the only issue I wish the blog would have discussed was how the waivers for pass holders are different than ticket holders. I anticipate waivers for just about anything nowadays. But an explanation rationale behind the variation would be beneficial.

From my experience season pass holders are generally required to sign an exculpatory contract (release) wheras a purchaser of an area ticket does not since thousands are sold and it is not practical to have every person sign. Most all area tickets have release language written on them stating the assumed risk. I believe Virginia courts did not recognize the " hold harmless" for many years but I think that changed recently. Either way state statutes vary and some are written with stonger language than others.    

post #224 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenniferRudolph View Post

Regarding the Denver Post article series being discussed here, we've collected and posted responses from various industry organizations, including the company I work for, Colorado Ski Country USA, on our blog here: http://blog.coloradoski.com/. Thank you for hearing our side of the story. 

 

Excellent reading linked above.  Any further comments should be posted only after thoroughly reading the link.  

post #225 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdog View Post

From my experience season pass holders are generally required to sign an exculpatory contract (release) wheras a purchaser of an area ticket does not since thousands are sold and it is not practical to have every person sign. Most all area tickets have release language written on them stating the assumed risk. I believe Virginia courts did not recognize the " hold harmless" for many years but I think that changed recently. Either way state statutes vary and some are written with stonger language than others.    

 

In article, the Post states "season-pass waivers release them from additional negligence claims and require the person who sues them to reimburse their attorney fees and costs, a Denver Post review of 30 years of lawsuits found."

 

Everyone needs to understand the inherent risks of skiing (I agree with about 99% of the law--see earlier post), but negligence should still be fair game. If a company employee is under the influence and speeding up the hill on a snowmobile at dusk without his lights on and without an orange flag and he knows that the brakes don't work and he hits someone, that is negligent--but you wouldn't be able to bring suit against the ski area if you purchased a season pass (instead of a ticket.) It's supposed to be negligence if the ski area doesn't obey the law.

 

A ski operator's negligence, which is established by a statutory violation of the Ski Safety Act that causes injury to a skier, is not an inherent danger or risk of skiing. Doering ex rel. Barrett v Copper Mountain 259 F.3d 1202 (10th Cir 2001)

 

However, if you purchase a season pass, you've waived your right to pursue those negligence claims and are responsible to reimburse attorney fees and costs.

 

If someone got seriously injured or died in one of the following circumstances, should they be able to purse a negligence claim--whether they bought a pass? All of these are negligent acts that could be pursued if you walked up and bought a ticket at the window that morning.

 

  • Extreme terrain mismarked as a Blue run
  • Closed trail not marked as closed
  • Unmarked ski area boundaries
  • A man-made structure (i.e. hydrant, water pipes) which is NOT readily visible (under normal conditions) for at least 100 feet is not marked
  • Snow grooming vehicle without lights on at night
     
post #226 of 236

That's where the burden of proof comes in which in theory lies on the shoulders of the plantiff. Unfortunately some will sue to try and recover high medical bills regardless of lack of or degree of negligence. Money is a great driving force.

post #227 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdog View Post

That's where the burden of proof comes in which in theory lies on the shoulders of the plantiff.

 

The problem is that in the case mentioned in the article about the season pass waivers (and discussed way too much earlier in this thread) it didn't even get to that point.  The case was dismissed by the local court because there was an absurdly broad liability waiver attached to the season pass agreement.  Then the resort threatened to countersue the plaintiff for six figures in legal fees if they didn't drop the appeal.  Since their medical damages were only a few thousand dollars they ended up dropping the case.  (Actual amount of reasonable legal fees and lack of disclosure thereof was contested by the plaintiff's attorney, but became irrelevant when they dropped the appeal.)

 

In UT a similarly broad waiver was found to be illegal by the state supreme court, since it was bypassing the legislature's intent in having the ski resort still be responsible for their own negligence (huge simplification; see legal opinion linked above for gory details.)  Think about it another way: if the resort could simply make all their liability disappear like this, why would they need special laws making them not responsible for inherent risks of skiing?  And would it really be a good idea for every company to be able to do this as a condition of you doing business with them?

post #228 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post

Excellent reading linked above.  Any further comments should be posted only after thoroughly reading the link.  

Agreed. National Ski Patrol's response was right on point to the latter half of this thread.
post #229 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

The problem is that in the case mentioned in the article about the season pass waivers (and discussed way too much earlier in this thread) it didn't even get to that point.  The case was dismissed by the local court because there was an absurdly broad liability waiver attached to the season pass agreement.  Then the resort threatened to countersue the plaintiff for six figures in legal fees if they didn't drop the appeal.  Since their medical damages were only a few thousand dollars they ended up dropping the case.  (Actual amount of reasonable legal fees and lack of disclosure thereof was contested by the plaintiff's attorney, but became irrelevant when they dropped the appeal.)

 

In UT a similarly broad waiver was found to be illegal by the state supreme court, since it was bypassing the legislature's intent in having the ski resort still be responsible for their own negligence (huge simplification; see legal opinion linked above for gory details.)  Think about it another way: if the resort could simply make all their liability disappear like this, why would they need special laws making them not responsible for inherent risks of skiing?  And would it really be a good idea for every company to be able to do this as a condition of you doing business with them?

That is the problem with creating a hold harmless that is ambigious or too broad in scope. They can be found to be unconstitutional.  Many have tried to create a common carrier bill to limit liability on amusement ride. Even a passenger chairlift is considered a common carrier. The problem is that such a law is too broad in scope and includes such things a buses and public transportation so they generally are shot down before they ever reach a vote.

It is my view that some states are getting more conservative on tort reform and others more liberal both sides due to jury verdicts and the attempt to control or limit the outcome. This make some states appear more business friendly than others.

If it were black and white 4 year olds would be making the decisions but unfortunately there remains a lot of gray.

post #230 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdog View Post

That is the problem with creating a hold harmless that is ambigious or too broad in scope. They can be found to be unconstitutional.  Many have tried to create a common carrier bill to limit liability on amusement ride. Even a passenger chairlift is considered a common carrier. The problem is that such a law is too broad in scope and includes such things a buses and public transportation so they generally are shot down before they ever reach a vote.

It is my view that some states are getting more conservative on tort reform and others more liberal both sides due to jury verdicts and the attempt to control or limit the outcome. This make some states appear more business friendly than others.

If it were black and white 4 year olds would be making the decisions but unfortunately there remains a lot of gray.

 

I did a little Google research on this topic and it's both interesting and complicated.

 

Such agreements can be disallowed because they are ambiguous, or overly broad, or because the disclosure of liability wasn't obvious enough (either buried in fine print, or bundled in with something else like an equipment rental form that doesn't look like a liability release).  But even if worded and disclosed properly, what is allowed varies considerably from state to state.

 

Some states disallow (or at least heavily restrict) waiving claims of 'negligence', while others will let you pretty much have people sign their lives (and/or their children's lives) away.  You can almost never waive claims of gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional harm.  (Note that, as discussed in other threads here about skiing accidents, 'gross negligence' and 'recklessness' are generally very broadly and/or poorly defined.)  Many states will not let you waive away a liability which is explicitly imposed or limited by law (or otherwise 'against public policy'), which is what happened in that UT case involving Snowbird.

 

"Common carriers" like airlines, bus or taxi companies, etc. cannot waive their own liability, because as a "carrier" their entire purpose is to safely take people from one place to another.  In CO ski lifts/trams are explicitly not considered common carriers, though.  (Whether amusement park operators are "common carriers" seems to be a matter of debate, as they're not really in the transportation business per se.)

post #231 of 236

Yes this is all true, common carriers are held to the highest degree of care under strict liability. Most every state recognizes comparitive fault using varying degrees considering  the amount of personal control an individual has in a given situation . Even with a hold harmless and a good statute it is hard to get a judge to dismiss a case on summary judgement, at least in this state it is.  I can't speak for Colorado or Utah but I am involved in every ski liability case in my state. At least for the past 17 years I have but still there haven't been that many.  

post #232 of 236
Thread Starter 

I am almost scared to bump this thread, but the Post published an editorial response to last week's series.

 

 

 

 

Slippery slope of skier safety

Tighter regulations on what is an inherently risky activity will lead to unintended consequences.
POSTED:   03/31/2013 12:01:00 AM MDT
UPDATED:   03/31/2013 12:23:25 AM MDT

By The Denver Post Editorial Board
 
A Copper Mountain ski patrolman, right, along with an unidentified skier, pulls an injured skier up a small hill on a patrol sled. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

A recent Denver Post investigative series raises some important issues about safety and liability at Colorado ski areas.

But here's the thing about skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor pursuits: Much of their appeal revolves around the ethos of individual responsibility and a spirit of adventure. It's hard to imagine anyone wants to see Colorado's ski slopes turned into tightly regulated amusement parks where everyone has the exact same experience.

Many of the prescriptions that have been put forward — greater involvement from law enforcement, mandatory injury reporting and loosening of laws defining "inherent risks of skiing," to name three — strike us being more beneficial to litigators than needed to address any widespread problems.

That said, Colorado's ski resorts enjoy considerable protection from legal liability via the 34-year-old Ski and Safety Act, and we question whether liability standards should be different based on whether a visitor purchased a lift ticket or a season pass.

Keep in mind that resorts are not operating death traps that demand tighter controls.

Skiing and snowboarding are incredibly safe activities in the grand scheme of recreational pursuits. According to data on emergency-room visits calculated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, skiing was not even in the top 10 as far as injuries per 100,000 people in 2011, the most recent year for which information is available.

We would be reluctant to support mandatory reporting of all ski-related injuries — just as we would not demand reporting of injuries to people who play hockey or soccer. But increased understanding of injury trends in any activity can improve safety (think releasable bindings, ski brakes, helmets and wrist guards). A 2010 ski injury data analysis by a professor at the University of Utah, for example, said injury studies have been shown to reduce injury rates.

So, how can it be done? Pilot safety studies involving electronic medical records in select areas would be a start. Greater transparency on the part of the resorts themselves would also help. Currently bulk data — meaning it is released once per year and is not sortable by resort, date, conditions, etc. — on serious injuries and deaths is released annually by the National Ski Areas Association.

Macro-level data could be beneficial. For example, Denver Post reporter Karen E. Crummy used autopsy reports, press releases and media accounts to determine that the average person who died on Colorado slopes in the last five years wasn't hurtling off of cliffs or slashing through trees. Instead, they tended to be experienced, helmet-wearing men who lost control on intermediate runs and hit trees. And the resort with the highest number of deaths in that span was not the state's busiest.

That's information the resorts likely know already. But were it more readily available, many outdoor enthusiasts would find it helpful as well. It also serves as an important reminder that maintaining a reasonable speed is the most important way to ensure safety on the slopes.

The reality is that skiing comes with inherent risks — but it is not atypical of other sporting activities.

We would like to see more uniform liability waivers and increased injury reporting, but we don't see a crisis warranting onerous and overreaching reaction from policy makers.



Read more:Slippery slope of skier safety - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_22895416/slippery-slope-skier-safety#ixzz2PAZh5b33

post #233 of 236

Seems like they did their best to do a tasteful back pedal. I also don't think that anyone really was upset about the idea of more transparent injury reporting or the questioning of why season passes and day passes have different liability but the way in which the articles presented info. 

post #234 of 236

Coincidentally, here's one of today's headlines:

 

Death of skier near Loveland under investigation

 

http://www.9news.com/news/article/327615/222/Death-of-skier-near-Loveland-under-investigation

 

GEORGETOWN, Colo. (AP) - The death of a skier just beyond the boundaries of Loveland Ski Area remains under investigation two weeks after his body was discovered.

The Denver Post Sunday first reported the death of the 33-year-old skier. Details, including the man's hometown or identity were not released by the ski area or Clear Creek County Coroner Don Allan. Allan told The Associated Press that the death remains under investigation.

Loveland spokesman John Sellers says the ski patrol was notified of the missing skier March 17 and patrollers found the man just outside the ski area's boundaries near an expert run called The Face.

Sellers says Loveland does not issue news releases when there's a death at or near the ski area along the Continental Divide near Interstate 70.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

post #235 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by rx2ski View Post

 

Sellers says Loveland does not issue news releases when there's a death at or near the ski area along the Continental Divide near Interstate 70.

 

That's pretty standard heck the police typically doesn't give news releases about traffic fatalities when they are on going. Not making news releases is not the same as not giving details to the police 

post #236 of 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

Seems like they did their best to do a tasteful back pedal. I also don't think that anyone really was upset about the idea of more transparent injury reporting or the questioning of why season passes and day passes have different liability but the way in which the articles presented info. 

More the business oriented owners worried about advertising vs. the well researched journalism on the problem of ski resorts being the sole investigator on whether the ski resort is liable for injuries.

 

Notice the editorial didn't address the issues the journalist raised just irrelevant hoo hah about "rugged individualism".

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