In a July 2016 decision, Colorado’s Supreme Court has finally come to a decision on a four-year-old question: is skiing inherently dangerous? The Colorado Supreme Court says yes. In Fleury v. IntraWest Winter Park, Christopher Norris, a skier, was killed during an avalanche on one of Winter Park Resort’s marked trails.
Following the accident, Norris’ widow brought a negligence suit against Winter Park resort for negligence due to their failure to warn skiers of a potential avalanche and failing to close the trail. After the case was dismissed by the trial court and the decision was upheld in the Court of Appeals, the case was brought before the Colorado Supreme Court.
The crux of the case centered on whether an avalanche on a marked ski trail qualifies as an inherent risk of skiing, thus shielding ski operators from liability pursuant to the Colorado Ski Safety Act.
Under the Colorado Ski Safety Act of 1979, skiing operators are protected from liability from skiers injured due to common dangers related to participation in a recreational snow sport. Participating in this recreation activity on a ski operator’s property qualifies as an assumption of the risk.
In addition, the Act mandates that ski operators must take the proper precautions to ensure skier safety; however, the Act does not require ski operators to account for unpredictable terrain, slope designs, and varying weather conditions.
In a 2-7 decision, Colorado’s Supreme Court interpreted the statute’s language “snow conditions as they exist or may change,” to be ambiguous enough to cover avalanches in that category. Therefore, the Court determined that avalanches are indeed an inherent risk related to skiing, thus shielding ski operators from claims involving injuries or deaths due to avalanche-related accidents. For more information on this case visit, the Denver Post.
As ski season approaches, you must be mindful of the risks associated with snow sport and related recreational activities. If you choose to participate in snow sports this season, decreasing your chances of being injured requires you to take the proper precautions. Wearing the appropriate protective gear, and being mindful of your abilities all play a part in ensuring that you have an enjoyable and safe experience.
In the unfortunate event that you or a family member is injured, Donaldson Law, LLC is here to help you. In your consultation with an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer, you can discuss the incident surrounding your injuries, and work towards finding the best solution for your circumstances. Contact the Donaldson Law, LLC at (303)-458-5000 to learn more.