Ski Area Operators Have Legal Duties To Make Skiing Safe
As ski season comes to its conclusion, it is important to review both the legal duties of recreational skiers as well the as operators of ski resorts in Massachusetts.
Pursuant to the Massachusetts Ski Safety Act (MSSA), a ski operator shall maintain their premises “in a reasonably safe condition or manner.”[i] These safety precautions include, but are not limited to, notifying skiers of maintenance or snow making equipment placed on or near ski slopes and trails. Ski operators and resorts may also be responsible for any man made obstacles placed on or near the ski slopes that cause injury to skiers, including posts or signage that is not made conspicuous, or clearly noticeable, to the skier.[ii]
As for recreational skiers, pursuant to Massachusetts law, skiers have a duty to act reasonably and with proper care while engaged in the activity of skiing.[iii] For example, skiers must not use the ski resort’s tramways except during the designated hours of operation and must not “engage in any type of conduct which may injure any person” and shall “maintain control of his speed and course at all times…”[iv] Under this law, a skier is presumed to know his own ski ability and limitations, and conform to his or her range of ability.
Of importance is that an injured person pursuing a claim of negligence against a ski operator or resort must notify the ski area operator of the injury (including the name and address of the person injured, the time, place, and the cause of the injury) within 90 days of the incident. Failure to provide this notification to the ski resort or operator may bar recovery, meaning you may not be able to receive compensation for your injuries.[v] As such, if you sustain an injury through no fault of your own while skiing, it is of the utmost importance to seek legal assistance immediately.
If you have been injured while skiing or during the course of a similar recreational activity, do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch LLP. You may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you have incurred.
[i] M.G.L.A. 143 § 71N.
[ii] See 526 CMR 10.16 (2) (b)(1).
[ii] M.G.L.A. 143 § 71O.
[v] M.G.L.A. 143 § 71P.