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Injured on the Slopes: Who is Liable?

What is Inherent Risk?

Inherent risk situations are typically defined as occurrences in which there was reasonable expectation of some level of risk for the participant. When an injury occurs due to the inherent risks of skiing or snowboarding, the snowboarder or skier is prevented from holding the resort liable for damages incurred.

Since skiing and snowboarding are both risk-taking sports, many injuries that are sustained on the slopes in Nevada do not result in viable claims against ski resorts. However, in some of these situations, victims might still be able to collect compensation for damages from a third party, such as another skier or an equipment manufacturer.

When Might a Ski Resort Be Liable for Injuries?

Colliding with another skier or snowboarder on the mountain or accidents caused by equipment failure may result in successful personal injury claims or even defective products claims. But a Nevada ski resort may be liable for other types of mishaps.

  • Failure to Warn: Ski resorts have a duty to warn skiers and snowboarders about any known hazards. Under the Nevada Skier Safety Act, the resort is required to place warning signs if certain areas of the slope or run is closed, and even if there is a danger of an avalanche. When proper warning is not given, the resort may be liable for injuries.
  • Maintenance of Terrain: The Nevada Skier Safety Act also specifies that the ski area must “take reasonable steps to minimize the dangers and conditions within the operator’s control.” Inadequate trail grooming, missing or improper signage, and failing to remove or cover hazardous objects can result in operator liability.
  • Equipment: It is the responsibility of the resort to ensure that all equipment offered by the business for skiers to use is safe and in good repair. When chair-lifts or rented ski equipment fail due to lack of maintenance, the resort can be held liable.

Facilities: Injuries like slips and falls that occur while an individual is visiting a resort but not actively skiing or snowboarding are not covered under the inherent risk doctrine, and premises liability law will apply.

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Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer Cliff Marcek

Mr. Marcek has published several legal articles, been a featured speaker on legal topics and has represent several clients pro bono during his career. In addition, Mr. Marcek was a member of the Attorney Generals Commission on Military Assistance in 2015.

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