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Assumption of risk on the slopes

Snowboarding and skiing are relatively dangerous sports with potential dangers that can cause injury or death. While skiers and riders are encouraged to enjoy the sports while remaining in control, one occasional premise for injury is boarders or skiers losing control and crashing into each other. Those who enjoy these sports understand that there is risk, but sometimes there is still potential for a personal injury lawsuit.

Gwyneth Paltrow's $3.1 million suit

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is accused of injuring another skier in 2016 while skiing at Utah's Deer Valley Resort. The plaintiff alleges that the actress skied out of control and crashed into his back, breaking four ribs, knocking him unconscious, causing a brain injury and other serious injuries. The plaintiff also claims that Paltrow broke the code because she left him on the mountain unconscious and skied off - Summit County where the resort is located has a reckless skiing provision that requires skiers and boarders to remain at the scene of the collision to ensure that the other party is okay.

How assumption of risk works

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently took up the matter of collusions on the hill. In the case of Soderburg v. Anderson, a boarder was doing a modest aerial trick in a slow area used for giving lessons when he hit a teacher giving a lesson from behind.

The court examined the doctrine of implied assumption of risk, examining other sports where there is potential for injury (such as baseball fans hit by foul balls or golfers hitting other players or spectators with a ball). In this case, the state Supreme Court denied to extend assumption of risk to skiers and boarders, believing that to do so would absolve reckless behavior such as riding out of control.

3 reasons for the ruling

  1. The court pointed out that collusions between riders are uncommon and thus not an inherent danger of the sport.
  2. The court simply did not feel right in applying assumption of risk.
  3. The court rejected the notion that holding negligent patrons of the sports accountable would adversely the popularity of the sports.

Boarders and skiers can be held accountable

The laws involving assumption of risk vary from state to state. However, serious injuries caused by negligence can be life changing or even fatal. In the case of Gwyneth Paltrow, the plaintiff claims that he has experienced permanent ongoing brain trauma. The ski teacher in Minnesota was seriously injured as well, leaving her to seek compensation for her injuries. Circumstances of accidents will vary, but those injured by skiers or boarders would be advised to consult with an attorney.

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Rosen Louik Perry, P.C. Pittsburgh
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