Idaho Ski Accident Law in a Nutshell
The Idaho Ski Safety Act is the cornerstone of Idaho ski injury law, describing the duties, rights, and liability of skiers, snowboarders, aerial tramway passengers, and ski area operators. Here are the key aspects of Idaho ski law in a nutshell.
Ski collision lawsuits allowed against negligent skiers and snowboarders?
Lawsuits allowed against negligent ski resort operators?
Yes—for intentionally or negligently causing property damage or injury to any skier, boarder, or tramway passenger.
Yes—for loss of earnings, lost employee benefits, damage to the ability to earn money in the future, loss of time, household expenses, medical and hospital expenses, home and vehicle modification and other out-of-pocket expenses, permanent injury and disability, physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental and emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life, loss of consortium, loss of affection, loss of lifestyle, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of the aid and comfort of each other, and/or loss of the enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages available?
Yes—but only in limited situations involving “oppressive, fraudulent, malicious or outrageous conduct.”
Statute of limitations?
A lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the incident causing the property damage or injury, or the claim will be forever barred.
Duties and Liability of Skiers, Boarders, and Tramway Passengers Under Idaho Ski Law
Under Idaho ski law, each skier and snowboarder expressly assumes the risk of, and legal responsibility for, any injury to another person or property while skiing and boarding, including any injury caused by (i) variations in terrain, (ii) movements of snow (such as slides, sloughs or avalanches), (iii) accumulations of snow, whether natural or man-made, (iv) freestyle terrain, (v) surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions, (vi) bare spots, rocks, trees, and other forms of forest growth or debris, (vii) lift towers, utility poles, and their components, and (viii) snowmaking and snow grooming equipment that are plainly visible or plainly marked with proper warning indicators.
Thus, under Idaho ski injury law, skiers and snowboarders have the sole responsibility to know the range of his or her own ability to negotiate a slope or trail. It also is the duty of each skier to ski within the limits of his or her ability, maintain reasonable control of speed and course at all times, heed all posted warnings, ski only in a ski area designated by the ski area operator, and/or not act in a manner that may cause or contribute to the injury of another. Under Idaho ski accident law, the responsibility for a ski or boarder collision is solely that of the individual or individuals involved in the collision and not the responsibility of the ski area operator.
Further under Idaho ski accident law, skiers and boarders (i) may not cross the track of any T-bar lift, J-bar lift, platter lift, or rope tow, except at designated locations, (ii) leave the scene of a ski accident in which they are involved without leaving their name and contact information and/or notifying the ski patrol when that person knows that any other person involved in the accident is in need of medical attention, and/or (iii) fail to wear retention straps or other devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
Under Idaho ski law, chairlift passengers must not: (i) board or disembark from an aerial tramway except in designated areas, (ii) drop or throw anything from an aerial tramway, (iii) interfere with the operation of a chairlift, (iv) use an aerial tramway if the passenger does not have the knowledge or ability to do so safely, (v) board an aerial tramway without the authority of the ski area operator, and/or (vi) travel via an aerial tramway without using its safety or restraining devices.
Violations of Idaho ski accident law that cause property damage or injure another skier, boarder, or tramway passenger constitute negligence and could result in a civil lawsuit for damages by the injured person against the negligent person.
Duties and Liability of Ski Area Operators Under Idaho Ski Accident Law
When operating a ski area, every Idaho operator must: (i) mark all trail maintenance vehicles and equip them with flashing or rotating lights when the vehicles are working or moving on the ski slopes and trails, (ii) mark with a visible warning sign the location of any hydrant or similar equipment used in snowmaking operations that are located on ski slopes and trails, and (iii) maintain trail boards at prominent locations at each ski area displaying its network of ski trails and slopes, whether such trails and slopes are open or closed, and their relative degree of difficulty.
Idaho ski area operators also must: (i) maintain trail boards at prominent locations at each ski area advising skiers and boarders whenever snow grooming or snowmaking operations are occurring, (ii) post notice about the required use of ski retention devices, (iii) provide a ski patrol with qualifications meeting the standards of the national ski patrol system, (iv) post a sign at the bottom of all aerial tramways advising passengers to seek instruction if not familiar with riding the tramway, and (v) construct, operate, maintain, and repair aerial tramways in accordance with the American national standards safety requirements for aerial passenger tramways.
In short, Idaho ski resort operators must not intentionally or negligently cause property damage or injury to any skier, boarder, or tramway passenger. If that happens, the operator causing such property damages or injuries could result in a civil lawsuit for damages by the injured person or damaged property owner against the operator. That said, ski area operators are not liable to any skier, boarder, or tramway passenger who violated their above-listed duties. Ski area operators also are not liable for any injury or property damage to a person who is not legally entitled to be in the ski area; or for any damages caused by anything dropped or thrown by an aerial tramway passenger.
Compensation for Injured Skiers, Boarders, and Tram Passengers Under Idaho Ski Law
Idaho ski accident law allows an injured person (and sometimes, the family of a person injured or killed while skiing) to sue for compensation for his or her injuries due to the actions of another skier, snowboarder, or ski area operator. The types of damages recoverable include loss of earnings, lost employee benefits, damage to the ability to earn money in the future, loss of time, household expenses, medical and hospital expenses, home and vehicle modification (such as adding a wheelchair ramp, etc.) and other out-of-pocket expenses, permanent injury and disability, physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental and emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life, loss of consortium, loss of affection, loss of lifestyle, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of the aid and comfort of each other, and/or loss of the enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are allowed in Idaho in limited situations involving “oppressive, fraudulent, malicious or outrageous conduct” where the party causing the injury or property damage deviated extremely from reasonable standards of conduct. Thus, although punitive damages are allowed in Idaho, they are rarely sought or awarded in personal injury cases.
We are experienced ski injury attorneys. We represent skiers, snowboarders, and tramway passengers (and their families) who were seriously injured while skiing, boarding, or riding chairlifts at Bogus Basin, Brundage, Grand Targhee, Kelly Canyon, Lookout Pass, Lost Trail, Schweitzer, Silver Mountain, Sun Valley, Tamarack, and other Idaho ski areas—regardless of whether it was the fault of another skier, boarder, or ski resort operator.
If you or your loved one was seriously injured or killed while skiing, snowboarding, or riding a ski lift in Idaho, contact us immediately. Gathering the evidence and interviewing witnesses before they leave the area, or their memories fade, is critical to maximizing your recovery. Time is short. The statute of limitations is running. Call us today.