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.