I love lawyer bashing. Mostly because it is so stereotypical and has all the informed analysis of the anti-civil rights arguments made by REDNECKS in the southern US during the 1950’s and 1960’s. “Skier hurted. Skier find lawyer. Lawyer find ski area maybe do bad thing. Lawyer sue ski area. Jury find lawyer right, give skier $$$. State Appellate court agree with lawyer. State Supreme Court agree with lawyer. Ski area insurance rates go up. My ticket price go up. Me hate lawyer. Me want to kill lawyer. Lawyer’s at heart of all problems.” And in the South, “black man bad. Black man sit by wife. Black man touch wife. Black man want to eat in my restaurant. Black man must die.” I would laugh but these pathetic beliefs were, and are, actually held by real people.
“Me” is at worst stupid and at best naive. I hope that “Me” doesn’t blame the guy pumping gas for air pollution. After all it is not his fault. No, it’s the guy driving the car. It is “Me”. But of course blaming “Me” requires both a look in the mirror and affirmative action (small case) to change the situation.
So who should be blamed for the alleged litigation crisis in skiing? “Me” (and yes, “Me” is YOU) for the most part. After all have you ever written legislation attempting to address this issue? Have you ever worked with your legislature/representative to address these issues? Do you even know what a legislature/representative is? Do you show up for jury duty, and if you do, do you seek a waiver because you are too important or too busy to waste your time sitting on a jury? Do you seek to place initiatives on the ballot addressing these issues (many states permit this)? Do you know what an initiative is? Do you spend time actively evaluating judicial candidates before you cast your vote? Are you actively attempting to bring real, reasonable and meaningful tort reform to your community (no tort reform is not a new revolution in desert baking)? If not, you are like the environmentalist who commutes to work 2 hours each way driving a 25 year old, smoke and pollution belching International Harvester Travall (a SUV from before SUV’s). You are a hypocrite. All tears, no action. And you want my sympathy? Hee, hee, hee. You are kidding right? Well?
So who else is to blame? Judges, for not controlling many truly frivolous cases until the costs have become ridicules; Insurance companies, for settling frivolous cases and for excessive profiteering, and for incompetent management; Juries, for foolish awards based on emotional decisions and failure to follow the law. Oh yes there are others, including lawyers, but all of these are minor problems.
A large part of the blame needs to go to the Urban Legend that the high cost of ticket prices is primarily or even significantly based on the lawsuits. What foolish twaddle. But note that the problem here also lies with some states. For example, California does not have a state ski safety act, however Ski Area lobbyists have prevailed upon five counties to write "inherent danger" ordinances. The result, California has an undue number of lawsuits. Not a lawyer problem, a California voters are way to liberal issue.
Other Urban Legends making the rounds here include the canard flown by David7, who states,
“An injury to a skier is not a loss for a ski area (except for the loss of individual lift ticket sales until the skier is back on his or her skis). A lawsuit, whether won,lost (sic) or settled, is the loss. That's where the area's insurance company gets involved. Actuarial statistics on injuries are of little real value to the insurance company. If that was what they used to determine rates and premiums, the overall cost of insurance would be less because the payments would be predictable. It's the unpredictable nature of lawsuits that drives up the cost of insurance and often leads to a lack of coverage availability.”
While such coverage loss does (actually the past tense is more accurate since these problems occurred pre 1980 for the most part) occur, it is very rare. Lack of coverage is more likely to occur in the skiing industry for the same reasons that it occurs among auto drivers – they are a bad risk. Meaning the ski area has had many valid claims due to its own negligence and no insurer is willing to cover the truly unpredictable risk.
David7, do you believe that life insurance companies can predict the date of someone’s death? David7 said, “[a]ctuarial statistics on injuries are of little real value to the insurance company.” Yet these statistics are almost identical to the longevity statistic used by life insurance companies. Insurers rely on actuarial statistics because over time and with a reasonable large pool of insureds the predicted claims loss will be very close the actual claims loss. There are lots of ski areas. There is plenty of time. So why is there a divergence (I don’t believe there is one) between ski area actual and predicted losses? There are many potential answers, including bad actuarial calculations, and bad insurance company practices (underbidding to “steal” business from competitors, for example). David7’s theory that lawsuit outcomes are unpredictable would be very low on my list of probable theories.
David7 also floats this canard, “Then along came the lawyers. Not to be denied their duty to protect yours and my right to just compensation (for a modest contingency), they have found gross and wanton negligence in just about everything the ski areas do.” If this statement were true I would expect a flood of lawsuits in the various ski states. I haven’t noticed any such flood. Quite the contrary, I have notice a consistent lack of ski related case before the courts, at least in Oregon. And, my experience is that the cases in court have a rough go of it with few resulting in awards, which could be considered outlandish.
And, no, AltaSkier your statement, “Shame on me, shame on the lawyer, shame on the legal system for allowing this to happen”, is not reasonable. If you notice, you are placing yourself in the role of the hapless victim. You are not. If the law is not to your liking, change it. Oh, yes it will require work, and clearly you are not up to that, at least not while you are in victim mode. Apparently, you are too busy drowning your beer with alligator tears. The Irony is that you have placed yourself in the same shoes of the skier in your story that you so ardently detest!!! ROFLMAO. NOTE: when drawing your pistol in a dual, DO NOT SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT, AS IT IS PAINFUL AND EMBARRASSING.
So my point? Ummm, ha, ha, well, I am not sure I have anything specific, but here goes… The Urban Legends were fact back in the late 1970’s but no more. That doesn’t mean that we should not carefully monitor ski area liability/lawsuits and change the laws as necessary. California would be a good place to start, but good luck. Each state has its own laws in this area. Some state laws may be problematic, others are not - don’t confuse the two. Don’t create or promote Urban Legends, especially about the ski industry (humor is fine, but the stuff above is hogwash). Do whatever you can to make positive changes to the ski industry and the legal areas, which concern it. Don’t whine about things as if you can’t change them - change them!
A few web sites are probably in order:http://www.skilaw.com/recentart.htm,
note specifically http://www.skilaw.com/pofskiarea.htm
regarding ski area lawsuits.
For the real reason your tickets are pricey see, http://www.cnn.com/2000/NATURE/10/10/ski.lawsuits.enn/[ May 01, 2002, 01:51 PM: Message edited by: Maddog1959 ]