New Mexico Ski Accident Law in a Nutshell
The New Mexico Ski Safety Act is the cornerstone of New Mexico ski injury law, describing the duties, rights, and liability of skiers, snowboarders, and ski area operators. Here are the key aspects of New Mexico ski law in a nutshell.
Ski collision lawsuits allowed against negligent skiers and snowboarders?
Lawsuits allowed against negligent ski resort operators?
Yes—for (i) violating the specific ski area operator duties listed in the New Mexico Ski Safety Act (see below), (ii) negligently operating, maintaining, or repairing ski lifts, and (iii) the negligent provision of services by ski patrol personnel—which result in an injury or death to a skier or damage to a skier’s property.
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 (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 available?
Yes. Punitive damages may be awarded in circumstances of fraud, malice, or willful, wanton, or intentional bad conduct.
Statute of limitations?
Yes. A lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the incident causing the injury or death, or the claims are forever barred.
Overview of New Mexico Ski Injury Law
Under New Mexico ski injury law, skiers and snowboarders must ski within the range of their abilities, maintain a proper lookout, control their speed and course, obey posted warnings, and generally avoid skiing in a manner that could cause injury. New Mexico ski accident law does not limit a skier’s or snowboarder’s right to sue another skier or snowboarder for colliding with and injuring him or her. When a ski collision occurs, the uphill skier is presumed to have had the best opportunity to avoid the collision and is generally held responsible.
New Mexico ski injury law imposes specific duties on ski area operators, including providing clear signage regarding the proper use of ski lifts, detailing the difficulty of ski slopes, marking a ski area’s boundaries, and marking man-made structures that are not clearly visible. A ski resort operator may be held liable for injuries resulting from violating its duties under New Mexico ski accident law. But an operator cannot be held liable for injuries resulting from certain inherent dangers and risks of skiing—such as snow conditions, terrain variations, natural objects, and collisions between skiers.
Duties and Liability of Skiers and Snowboarders Under New Mexico Ski Law
New Mexico ski injury law recognizes that skiing is an inherently hazardous recreational sport. It is the duty of each skier and snowboarder to conduct himself or herself carefully. As such, skiers and snowboarders have the sole individual responsibility for knowing the range of their ability to negotiate any slope or trail. It is the duty of each skier, snowboarder, and ski lift passenger to (i) ski within the limits of their own ability, (ii) maintain reasonable control of speed and course at all times while skiing, (iii) heed all posted warnings, (iv) ski only in a ski area designated by the ski area operator, and (v) not act in a manner that may cause or contribute to the injury or death of another person.
Responsibility for collisions with another skier or snowboarder shall be solely that of one or more of the skiers or snowboarders involved in the collision—except where an employee or representative of the ski resort operator is personally involved in a collision while in the course and scope of his or her employment. Each skier and snowboarder has the duty to stay clear of and avoid collisions with snow-maintenance equipment, marked all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, all other vehicles, lift towers, signs and any other structures, amenities, and equipment on the ski slopes and trails or in the ski area.
No skier or snowboarder (i) when injured while skiing or using a ski lift, or when injured in a collision with another skier or snowboarder, may leave the scene of the injury before giving his or her name, current address, and information about the collision and the location where the injury or collision occurred to the ski area operator or ski patrol, (ii) may use a ski lift, skiing area, or ski slopes or trails while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or (iii) shall fail to wear retention straps or other ski retention devices to help prevent runaway skis.
Violations of New Mexico ski injury law that cause property damage or injure or kill another skier, snowboarder, or ski lift passenger constitute negligence and could result in a civil lawsuit by the injured person or the injured person’s family against the negligent person.
Duties and Liability of Ski Area Operators Under New Mexico Ski Accident Law
Under New Mexico ski injury law, every New Mexico ski area operator must (i) mark all snow-maintenance vehicles, including operational flashing or rotating lights, (ii) mark with a visible sign the location of any hydrant or similar equipment used in snow-making operations located on ski slopes and trails, (iii) mark in a plainly visible manner at the top or entrance to each slope, trail, or area with the appropriate symbol for its relative degree of difficulty, using the symbols established by the national ski areas association, and (iv) mark such slopes, trails, or areas that are closed, or portions of which present an unusual obstacle or hazard, at the top or entrance or at the point of the obstacle or hazard with the appropriate symbols established by the national ski areas association or by the New Mexico ski area operators association.
New Mexico ski resort operators also must (i) maintain one or more trail boards at prominent locations at each ski area displaying that area’s network of ski trails and slopes, (ii) designate by trail board or signage at the top of or entrance to the trail or slope which trails or slopes are open or closed, (iii) place a conspicuous notice at the top or entrance of a trail or slope whenever snow-maintenance vehicles or snow-making operations are occurring while such trail or slope is open to the public, (iv) provide a sufficient number of properly trained and equipped ski patrol personnel to provide medical attention to injured skiers and snowboarders and evacuate passengers from stalled aerial ski lifts, (v) warn of or correct particular hazards or dangers known to the operator, and (vi) operate, repair, and maintain all ski lifts in a safe manner and condition.
Ski resort operators, however, do not have a duty to any skier or snowboarder skiing beyond marked ski area boundaries. Nor do operators have a duty to protect skiers and snowboarders from their own inappropriate behavior or another skier’s or snowboarder’s careless or reckless behavior leading to a collision.
New Mexico ski law allows a ski resort operator to obtain a written agreement with a skier or snowboarder to waive any legal claims they may have against the operator. But these agreements, known as “liability waivers,” are generally not the most well written agreements. So, be aware of what a ski area operator may require you to sign and do not automatically assume you have no case against a negligent operator just because you signed a liability waiver. Whether a liability waiver will stand up in court should be determined by an experienced ski injury lawyer.
Violations of these ski area operator duties under New Mexico ski injury law that cause property damage, injury, and/or death to a person could result in a civil lawsuit by the injured person or damaged property owner against the negligent ski resort operator.
Compensation for Injured Skiers and Snowboarders Under New Mexico Ski Law
New Mexico 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 negligence of another skier and/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 also available under New Mexico ski injury law.
We are experienced ski injury attorneys. We represent skiers and snowboarders, and the families of skiers and snowboarders, who were seriously injured or killed while skiing, snowboarding, or riding a chairlift at Angel Fire, Apache, Cloudcroft, Pajarito, Red River, Santa Fe, Sandia Peak, Sipapu, Taos, and other New Mexico ski areas—regardless of whether it was the fault of another skier, snowboarder, or ski resort operator.
If you or your loved one was seriously injured or killed while skiing, snowboarding, or riding a ski lift in New Mexico, 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. The sooner you file, the better your chances of obtaining compensation for your injuries. Call us today.