Can an Indiana Ski Resort Be Held Liable for Injuries Occurring on the Mountain?

Winter is officially here, and along with the season comes the ability to participate in some of the most fun and exciting sports – skiing and snowboarding. Part of the reason why these sports are so thrilling is also what makes them so dangerous. High speeds, steep hills, moguls, tight turns, and trees all contribute to the overall experience of skiing, but also to the risks involved. The question often comes up, can a resort be held liable for an Indiana ski accident?

In theory, a ski resort can be held liable for injuries that occur while a guest is skiing. However, almost all ski resorts have taken precaution to ensure that they will not be held responsible for injuries that are caused due to the inherent risks of the sport. Determining what constitutes an “inherent risk” is subject to interpretation and is typically a job left to the courts. Notwithstanding the potential hurdles involved, anyone injured in an Indiana ski accident should reach out to a dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyer to discuss their situation.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties one plaintiff had attempting to bring a claim against a ski resort after an accident with a snowcat. Although it did not take place in this state, it may be illustrative of how an Indiana court would approach the topic.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s version of the facts, the plaintiff obtained a season pass to the defendant ski resort. In the process of getting the pass, the plaintiff signed a liability release waiver, indicating that she was familiar with the inherent risks of skiing and snowboarding and accepted those risks. Among the risks specifically listed were the dangers of sharing the run with snow-making and snow-grooming equipment.

Evidently, the plaintiff collided with a snowcat on her final run of the day. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff’s leg was amputated. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the ski resort, claiming that the resort was both negligent and grossly negligent.

The Court’s Opinion

The court began by noting that under the liability release waiver the plaintiff could not recover for her injuries if they were caused by a risk that was inherent to the sport of skiing or snowboarding. It is only if the resort was acting with gross negligence that the plaintiff’s case could proceed.

Here, the court explained that the presence of a snowcat on the ski run was an inherent risk. The court acknowledged that it might not have been prudent to operate the snow cat while the resort was open, but it did not rise to the level of gross negligence. The court explained that there are times when a snowcat must be on the hill with skiers and snowboarders, and that there was no evidence that the resort increased the risk of danger by operating the snowcat in a particularly unsafe manner.

Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Ski Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana ski or snowboard accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we represent injury victims in all types of accidents, including Indiana sports accidents. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.

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