Can Injured Skiers and Snowboarders Pursue a Maryland Personal Injury Claim Against a Ski Resort?

Skiing is the favorite seasonal pastime of many Maryland recreationalists. However, skiing can be a dangerous sport, especially when the ski resort does not take the necessary safety precautions. While the winter ski season has passed, now is a good time for those who were injured in a Maryland skiing accident to consider whether they may have a claim for compensation against the resort where their injuries occurred.

In general, ski resorts – like other landowners – have a duty to ensure that areas accessible by guests are safe and well maintained. This includes not just the resort’s skiable areas, but also restaurants, restrooms, locker rooms, and parking lots. When management is negligent in the operation of the resort, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of that negligence.

One issue that frequently comes up in ski accident cases is whether the injured skier gave up their right to pursue a claim against the ski resort by signing, or otherwise acknowledging, the resort’s release of liability. A recent case illustrates how courts review cases in which a defendant ski resort relies on a printed release of liability.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff purchased a lift ticket to the defendant ski resort. On the rear of the lift ticket, the resort had included a “liability release.” The release explained that by using the resort’s facilities, the ticket holder acknowledges that skiing and snowboarding are dangerous sports and agrees to release the resort for all liability, including for the resort’s own negligence. The plaintiff used the ticket and headed up the lift to enjoy the mountain.

Unfortunately, while the plaintiff was skiing, he ran into a piece of unmarked and unpadded snow-making equipment that was obscured by snow. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the ski resort, arguing that it was negligent in allowing the equipment to remain on the run without warning skiers or guarding against skiers by padding placement. In its defense, the ski resort relied on the release of liability on the lift ticket.

The court held that the plaintiff was unable to bring a case against the ski resort based on the language of the liability release contained on the lift ticket. The court explained that a release of liability does not need to be signed to be enforceable. Here, the court reasoned that the plaintiff had the opportunity to read the release, and decided to use the resort’s facilities nonetheless.

The court also explained that the liability was “sufficiently conspicuous” to be enforceable. The court reasoned that the text was clear, and comprised nearly the entire back side of the lift ticket, which required the plaintiff peel a wax-paper backing from the ticket, fold it in half, and apply it to his clothing. Additionally, the court noted that there was an image of a stop sign on the wax-paper backing of the ticket explaining “STOP. YOU ARE RELEASING THE SKI AREA FROM LIABILITY.”

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Ski Accident?

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a ski accident, or any other accident that occurred while engaging in an organized recreational activity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent injury victims and their family members in premises liability cases across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more about the services we provide, and how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.

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