The winter months here in Connecticut are often cold and snowy. However, the silver lining for living in this climate is the opportunities to enjoy such winter sports as skiing and snowboarding. Powder Ridge Mountain and Mount Southington are not far. Of course, there are also mountains up in Vermont and New Hampshire. These resorts or recreation areas can be a great place to have fun, get exercise, and be outside, but they are also sites where people are more likely to get seriously injured. (Some may remember that a skier at Mohawk Mountain was airlifted to a hospital last February.)
Connecticut is like many states in that it has recreational safety acts that make it difficult for injured individuals to file a lawsuit against the businesses that own and operate ski and snowboarding areas. Due to the dangerous nature of sliding down a hill of snow and ice, the courts reason that skiers and boarders assume certain risks inherent in the sport. This is true even when the operators and employees create hazards while grooming the slope, using snowmaking equipment or attempting a rescue operation.
Negligence can also cause a victim’s injury
The law outlines specific guidelines where a skier or boarder could be held liable because any of these actions or inactions could cause injury to others:
- Drop objects from the lift
- Interfere with the operation of the lift
- Use the lift without the permission of the lift operator
- Place or create a hazard that causes injury to others
- Violate the posted rules of the hill
- Leave the scene of an injury
- Not use retention equipment to avoid runaway gear
- Not employing safety procedures on the lift
The ski area could be liable if the lift was not constructed, equipped, operated and maintained in a manner that allows for proper and safe use. The state will also certify that the lift is ready for public use each year. It shall not be used until there is an operating certificate.
Other operator duties include:
- Conspicuously mark all trails and potential hazards
- Conspicuously mark all operational equipment on the slopes
- Ensure that lift towers have padding at the bottom in case a skier loses control
- Maintain trail boards in prominent locations that detail the status of the lifts and runs
- Enforcing the rules when other skiers or boarders do not follow them
The injured may need to take action
As with all injuries due to others’ negligence, it is best to discuss the details with an attorney specializing in injury cases. Their knowledge of the law can help determine if there is a case and how to best proceed when there is negligence.