Utah Ski Accident Law in a Nutshell
The Utah Ski Resort Liability Act is the cornerstone of Utah ski injury law, describing the duties, rights, and liability of ski resort operators.
But unlike Colorado’s Ski Safety Act, for example, the Utah Ski Resort Liability Act does not address skiers’ and snowboarders’ duties, rights, and liability. Rather, Utah common law negligence principles, local ski area laws and municipal codes, and industry standards, such as the National Ski Areas Association Your Responsibility Code, govern individual skiers and snowboarders in Utah. Here are the key aspects of Utah ski injury law in a nutshell.
Ski collision lawsuits allowed against negligent skiers and snowboarders?
Lawsuits allowed against negligent ski resort operators?
Yes—for (i) an intentional or malicious failure to protect or warn a skier against a dangerous use of a ski area, or a dangerous condition, structure, or activity in a ski area; and (ii) intentional or malicious conduct resulting 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 and wanton bad conduct.
Statute of limitations?
A lawsuit must be filed within four years of the date of the incident causing the injury, or the claims are forever barred. A wrongful death lawsuit, however, must be filed within two years of the date of the incident causing the wrongful death.
Overview of Utah Ski Injury Law
Under Utah 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. Utah ski accident law does not limit a skier’s right to sue another skier or snowboarder for colliding with and injuring him or her. When a collision occurs, the uphill skier is presumed to have had the best opportunity to avoid the collision and is generally held responsible.
Utah ski law imposes specific duties on ski area operators. For example, operators must provide 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. While a ski resort operator may be held liable for injuries resulting from its intentional or malicious violations of Utah ski accident law, the 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 Utah Ski Law
Under Utah ski injury law, skiers and snowboarders must ski within the range of their abilities, maintain a proper lookout, control their speed and course, and obey posted warnings. Skiers and snowboarders must (i) stay clear of all equipment, vehicles, lift towers, and signs, (ii) obey posted warnings and instructions, (iii) not ski on closed slopes, and (iv) not knowingly enter public or private lands next to ski areas.
Skiers and snowboarders must not ski in a manner that could cause injury to others. Before starting down a ski trail, a skier must avoid any moving skiers already on the trail. Skiers also are prohibited from entering a ski trail while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nor may skiers and snowboarders involved in a ski collision where an injury or death occurs leave the scene of the collision before providing their names and contact information to the ski patrol.
Violations of Utah ski accident law that cause property damage or injure or kill another skier constitute negligence and could result in a civil lawsuit by the injured person or the injured person’s family against the negligent skier or snowboarder.
Duties and Liability of Ski Area Operators Under Utah Ski Accident Law
Utah ski law effectively requires ski resort operators to maintain a prominent, readily visible, readable, and informative signage system for the protection and instruction of skiers. As such, injured skiers and snowboarders may sue negligent ski area operators for (i) an intentional or malicious failure to protect or warn a skier against a dangerous use of a ski area, or a dangerous condition, structure, or activity in a ski area; and (ii) intentional or malicious conduct resulting in an injury to a skier or snowboarder or damage to their property.
That said, Utah ski accident law specifically prohibits lawsuits against ski resort operators for injury or death due to the “inherent risks of skiing,” such as (i) a change in weather conditions in the ski area, (ii) any snow, ice, or surface condition existing in the ski area, including hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, trees, or other natural objects, (iii) a variation or steepness in terrain in the ski area, whether natural or the result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, or other terrain modifications (including a terrain park, a competition venue, a jump, a rail, a fun box, a half pipe, a quarter pipe, a freestyle-bump terrain, or any other constructed or natural terrain feature of the ski area), (iv) an impact with a tree, lift tower, or another manmade structure, including a sign, post, fence, enclosure, hydrant, or water pipe, (v) any injury, death, or property damage arising from participating in or training for a competition or special event, and/or (vi) a failure to properly load or unload a ski lift or other passenger tramway.
Ski resort operators also do not have a duty to any skier or snowboarder skiing beyond marked ski area boundaries. Nor do operators have a duty under Utah ski law to protect skiers and snowboarders from their own inappropriate behavior or another skier’s careless or reckless behavior leading to a collision.
The Utah ski injury law allows a ski area operator to obtain a written agreement with a skier or snowboarder, waiving 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 resort 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.
Intentional or malicious violations of Utah ski accident law by a ski area operator causing property damage or injury or death to a person could result in a civil lawsuit by the injured person or his or her family against the operator.
Compensation for Injured Skiers and Snowboarders Under Utah Ski Law
Utah 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 also available under Utah 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 Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head, Brighton, Canyons, Cherry Creek, Deer Valley, Eagle Point, Nordic Valley, Park City, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Solitude, Sundance, Woodward, and other Utah ski areas—regardless of whether it was the fault of another skier, snowboarder, or a ski resort operator.
If you or your loved one was seriously injured or killed while skiing, snowboarding, or riding a ski lift in Utah, 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.