I had a serious slip and fall on ice in the rear parking lot of an Inn/Dance Club located in Hunter Mountain about 4 1/2 years ago. There was clearly no salt, sand or gravel present. There was a major snow storm three days prior to my fall and an ice storm a week prior. This left the parking lot a complete sheet of ice. I was found 60% at fault because I "assumed risk" by visiting a ski resort area even though a business owner is responsible for maintaining their premises. I was completely upset of the jury's verdict and if I had done a couple of things differently the veridict may have been different.
1. Always carry a throw-away camera to take pictures of the conditions in the event of an accident. (I did not do this.)
2. Always wear snow boots (I was in my case, however, many people visit dance clubs and especially women would not dance in snow boots - WARNING you are not wearing the proper foot wear you are at fault!!!).
3. ALWAYS obtain a POLICE Report. (This was my mistake and is extremely important. This is considered an "official document".)
4. Always make a complaint to management when you arrive in the facility of the poor conditions.
I have done a little homework since my fall and some interesting items that ski resorts are accountable for.
For example: NEW YORK LAW
1. Requires that all ski resorts inspect the conditions of the slopes twice a day.
2. Ski resorts are required to FLAG/Identify any dangerous conditions that may not be apparent to a skiier. Ex. Place flags on hidden ice patches that are unavoidable or too large to ski around.
3. Lift poles and man made devices like snow making equipment should be padded or fenced.
The law changes from state to state, so be sure you know what your liable for before you plan your vacation.
"Oh, the snow is so cold & slippery I fall down...I sue..."
"I'm a beginner and went down an expert bump field and hurt my knee...I sue..."
Common sense & U.S. = mutually exclusive
I am sorry to hear of your accident and injury. However, I believe the jury got this one right. While the owner of a resort certainly has a duty to ensure that he maintains the resort in a reasonably safe condition, patrons should expect ice and snow accumulation in the winter and act accordingly.
Rich is correct in that the reason lift tickets, ski equipment, helmets, etc. are so expensive is due to lawsuits like yours. The money that owners/operators of ski resorts pay to defend themselves has to come from somewhere. So the limited "award" you got in the short term will only mean that we ALL pay more later in terms of higher equipment costs, lift tickets, etc.
This problem is not limited to the ski industry but is pervasive throughout the American culture. Too often, we are quick to blame others for misfortunes. We cast ourselves as the helpless "victims" who have been injured at the hands of the "evil" corporate entities that sell us products and services. The problem, however, is that these corporations are not the "deep pockets" or "wells of endless money" that many view them. We all pay in the end when corporations have to increase prices to cover exhorbitant costs or worse, when they fold for inability to provide goods or services due to the high cost of numerous lawsuits.
In the case of ski resorts, more lawsuits mean higher ticket prices. Higher ticket prices lead to fewer skiers. Fewer skiers lead to less and less profit. Eventually, the area closes and we have all lost out. The ski industry is already in an unhealthy state (and for the record, would be much worse off without the fresh enthusiasm brought in by snowboarders). Bringing more "slip and fall" lawsuits as your message impliedly encourages will only serve to further harm the sport we all love.
Of course, this does not excuse negligent behavior by the resort and management SHOULD be made aware of hazardous conditions that can be rectified. A simple complaint to management is the first step. Tell your friends to complain. If the area continues to neglect such conditions, vote with your feet and take your business elsewhere. Lawsuits should be the item of absolute last resort - not first.
Oh yes, the thread...Killington's weeklong Ski Instructor seminar included one whole class devoted to industry litigation. They have TWO lawyers on retainer at all times. Rarely, if ever loose a case, but anyone can sue anyone anytime for anything (stupid) they do...that's what runs up the chargeable hours! Yes, the resort does have responsibilities...but then again there is something most skiers are oblivious to: the Skiers Responsibility Code!!!
Happy (safe) skiing
My clients run the spectrum from small businesses trying to get established all the way to huge multi-billion dollar corporations. I try to help them stay in compliance with applicable federal and state regulations and work with them when they mess up. I see first hand the impacts lawsuits have on companies providing goods and services to consumers. While there is a time and place for products liability litigation, I believe we have swung too far in the wrong direction. Too many times, the first reaction to an accident or injury is SUE! The judicial system should be the last stop, not the first. I also see this on the other end built in to the prices for equipment that I have to pay for the hobbies I indulge in ($500 for a motorcycle helmet - ouch!).
But back to skiing! I had the Merlin IV's. Loved 'em but found them a bit heavy for me. Switched to the Atomic 8.16's for round these parts in a 180 and have a pair of 8.22's in a 190 for out West. Love 'em both. You may want to check out the ski swap Ski Center will host towards the end of October. Should be some pretty good deals there for some teaching skis.
Got a buddy of mine a pair of old Atomic ARC's in the hot pink color they had way back in the 80's. Cost about $15. He LOVES them - calls them the "Big Pinks." Uses them to teach. Absolutely no side cut, stiff as hell and a total blast (so he says). He's PSIA too - level 2. He "allows" us to refer to him simply as "the ski god." (-: Where do you teach?
I'm in a totally different industry (restaurants not ski) and see the type of situation Diane is talking about all the time. And to some extent I take her side but only if I have more information.
We train our management team to have empathy and attack these situations with vigor and not let them go likely. If a customer brings a hazardous situation to our attention, we need to jump all over it. Heck I'm the accountant and the time I spend in the restaurant I'm always looking down for spills. However, seldom am I looking in the back parking lot for ice in our ski resort towns (isn't the entire parking lots always ice?)
Diane if you had brought it to the managements attention (parking lot, back entranceway, etc.) and they ignored it or you, I'm all for that lawsuit. If you noticed it on the way in and forgot while you were dancing, I have no sympathy. I love it when customers fall down in the restaurant and begin screaming that the floor is slippery. 95% of the time when I check, there's not even a drop of sweat there.
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