Maine is known for its excellent skiing and snowboarding. And while skiing and snowboarding are popular winter sports that all ages can enjoy, they can also present significant dangers. One common question that comes up after Maine skiing accidents is whether the ski resort can be held liable for a skier’s injuries. The answer, as is often the case in personal injury law, is “sometimes.”
Generally speaking, landowners owe a duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property. Thus, absent any other legislation, it would seem that ski resorts are bound by this duty and could be held liable for a skier’s injuries. However, the Maine State Legislature has the ability to clarify or eliminate a duty of care if it sees fit. Not surprisingly, given the fact that the ski tourism industry is a significant source of revenue for the state, lawmakers provide some legal protections to ski resorts.
Under Maine Revised Statutes section 15217, lawmakers have determined that skiers and snowboarders assume certain risks by engaging in these winter sports. In effect, section 15217 provides broad immunity to ski resorts by stating that skiers and snowboarders accept “the risks inherent in the sport and, to that extent, may not maintain an action against or recover from the ski area operator … for any losses, injuries, damages or death that result from the inherent risks of skiing.” The statute notes that weather conditions, surface conditions, and collisions with fixed objects, among other risks, are all inherent risks of the sport.
Immunity under section 15217, however, is not without its limits. As subsection 7 clarifies, the statute does not prevent injury victims from bringing cases based on the negligent operation or maintenance of the resort. Additionally, claims based on the negligent design, operation, or maintenance of the ski lifts are also permitted. Thus, injury victims are not wholly precluded from recovering; however, they must be sure to bring a cognizable claim based on the resort’s negligence.
When a skiing or snowboarding accident involves multiple skiers, courts have held that there is a “clear intent” under Maine law to confine responsibility for the accident to the skiers involved. Thus, absent additional facts showing that the resort’s negligence contributed to the accident, a skier injured in a collision with another skier may be limited to recovering from that skier.
Have You Been Injured in a Maine Ski or Snowboard Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maine ski accident, contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates. At our Maine personal injury law firm, we represent injury victims in all types of claims, including skiing and snowboarding accidents, as well as other sports-related accidents. Our dedicated team of injury lawyers are knowledgeable in all areas of personal injury law, and take the time to ensure that you fully understand each step in the process. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, and we only bill you for our services if we can help you recover for your injuries. To learn more, call 800-804-2004 to schedule a free consultation today.