Temperatures have dropped here in Minnesota, and the ski hills have already begun to churn out artificial snow and open up their ski runs for the season. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are great ways to enjoy the winter season, but due to their nature, they can also be a bit dangerous and lead to injuries. If you are struck and injured by another skier or snowboarder, can you sue them for compensation, or did you assume the risks when you bought your lift ticket? We take a closer look at personal injury law as it pertains to the ski hill here in Minnesota.
Suing After A Skiing Or Snowboarding Injury
As you might imagine, we have case law on the books in Minnesota that addresses whether or not a person can sue another party for injuries they suffer on a ski hill. The reading in Soderberg v. Anderson is fascinating, and it centers around the idea of assumed risk.
In that case, Anderson, a snowboarder, went over a jump and landed on Soderberg, a ski instructor, causing significant injuries. Initially, the courts ruled that Soderberg was not able to sue Anderson for her injuries because she assumed the risks of the ski hill when she entered the property. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, and they looked at the assumption of risk in a number of other arenas when rendering their verdict. They examined the assumption of risk:
- At a major league baseball game, and how spectators assume the risk of being struck by a foul ball so long as some netting has been put in place to help protect fans.
- At golf events, where spectators assume the risk of being struck by a golf ball given their proximity to the course.
- At hockey games, as the nature of the sport assumes risks for the players and fans.
- During recreational skating events, in which falls and collisions may occur.
- While snowmobiling, holding that while potentially dangerous, safely maneuvering a snowmobile is not more hazardous than a car.
After looking at all those other arenas where assumption of risk is involved, the courts held that while risk can be assumed when entering a ski hill, that doesn’t mean that participants can act recklessly or negligently. If two skiers are navigating down the hill and end up colliding, it may not rise to the level of negligence and could be considered an assumed risk. However, if one party was recklessly endangering the safety of multiple parties while traversing the hill or traveling at high speeds in a beginner area before striking someone, this may be considered negligent behavior, and that would trump any defense of assumed risk.
In other words, each case will be decided on an individual basis, but it’s clear that if you are considering bringing legal action against someone on a ski hill, you need to have a lawyer by your side. You assume some risk when you enter a ski or snowboard hill, so it’s not enough to simply prove that injuries exist. You’ll also need to prove that the at-fault party acted negligently or recklessly and that the assumption of basic risk does not apply to your situation. A lawyer can help paint a picture of the scene and get you the compensation you deserve, so don’t try to win your case on your own. It’s going to be an uphill battle over downhill skiing, so let a professional step in and show that you did not assume the risks that you faced when you entered the property.
For more information about earning compensation for skiing or snowboarding injuries, or to talk to a lawyer about a different injury compensation case, reach out to Dean and the team at Margolis Law Firm today at (952) 230-2700.
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