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Ski Area Release of Liability

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I think it is widely known that last year the Oregon Supreme Court refused to enforce the Mt. Bachelor release of liability signed by season pass holders of the grounds of unconscionability..  Today I learned at the Mt. Bachelor website that they have a new Assumption of Risk Agreement for this year.  I will gladly sign it just as I have signed past releases because I do not believe it is any more enforceable than the old release--which by the way is a very comprehensive and well-drafted agreement.  I would be interested to know how other skiers feel about these releases.

post #2 of 9
I think we all agree that the ski area should be released from most liability.... until it involves us.

For the record, I slammed into a tree, ricocheted off it and onto a pile of logs stacked inexplicably next to the trail, having had my ski come off my foot on a hidden rock, and NEVER considered suing the ski area, the binding manufacturer, or anyone else. But many do. It was not a cheap experience. But, ##it happens.

And it was nothing to do with any release, since I knew it was unenforceable, it was just my own conscience.

mod note: language edited ##
post #3 of 9
Makes no difference to me. I am responsible for my own actions.
post #4 of 9

The short version of most release forms: "What ever happens, it is your fault".

post #5 of 9

The laws vary greatly state by state in the US, and of course Canada, Europe, etc. are even more different.  So it's hard to make blanket statements.  See http://skilaw.com/state-ski-law/ for an overview of each US State's relevant laws and important cases. 


Interestingly, that site has not been updated to include the oregon supreme Court's ruling in Bagley v. Mt. Bachelor, Inc. which voided the liability waiver and remanded the case to Deschutes County trial court for adjudication.  I don't think it has gone to trial yet, so we'll have to wait to see what the end result is.


My own opinion is that some ski resorts engage in negligent behavior and hide behind the waivers (which are enforcable in most states) and this is not a good thing.   And some skiers do stupid or inept things and recover damages when they shouldn't, and this drives up the costs for the rest of us, also not a good thing.  I'm enough of a realist to understand that it's not going to be perfect.

post #6 of 9

Walt:  I looked at the website you listed with case law regarding skiing.  Very informative and interesting.  Thanks for sharing the information.

post #7 of 9

A lot of releases are not inforceable.  I sign them all the time knowing they do not release anyone from their legally established duties of care.   Hey you signed a release, so I can set up a shooting range with the ski hill as a backstop, while your skiing on it- not.  I think the point is they might discourage some people from filing frivolous law suits, thereby saving some legal fees

post #8 of 9

I suspect it depends on the nature of the incident. You ski into a tree. Resort not liable. Lift derails. Resort liable. Kid falls off chair that lacks safety bar--got me.

post #9 of 9

Context matters.  There is a difference between negligence and recklessness, in some jurisdictions the waiver might protect the resort from negligence but not recklessness.


Also, even if the waiver is not enforceable in that it does not automatically release the resort from any and all liability, the waiver can be used as evidence that you were informed of the risks.  The waiver is still helpful when defending these cases, even if its not a get out of jail free card.


The fact is, sometimes the resort should get sued, and usually it should not.  You shouldn't be suing someone when you do something stupid and get hurt.  Half pipes are dangerous.  Don't go on one if you aren't prepared to get hurt. 


Now, of course, if you are sitting on the lift and the chair falls off with you on it and it turns out the resort knew that chair was F'ed, well, then maybe they should get sued.  And they will.  And the plaintiff will likely get paid.


I suspect most cases are somewhere in between those two scenarios.

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