Thursday, September 30, 2010

When snowboarders get hurt who pays?

The issue of liability at a snowboard or ski resort may seem pretty boring. After all, we're not attorneys, we're snowboarders. Yet, it affects nearly all of us.

If the resort is responsible for serious hand-holding (or facing litigation), they will need to make the runs less challenging and raise their rates even more to cover potential legal litigation.

In Colorado, they're exempt from being sued for injuries that occur when snowboarding or skiing, unless the injury comes from extremely poor practices. The Colorado legislature realized, in an all-too-rare moment of brilliance, that snow sports are inherently dangerous and that neither resorts or your mommy can guarantee your safety.

Apparently, that wisdom doesn't extend to British Columbia. They just sued Whistler-
Blackcomb for injuries suffered by a snowboarder in 2008. It's a large lawsuit. You can read about it here.

Don't misunderstand my feelings on this. I think the injured rider should be cared for and, as much as possible, treated for her injuries. However, I don't think the burden should fall solely on the resort.

Some will argue that this is Canada and won't affect our laws. Trust me - it might not immediately affect us but it will eventually.

Some may argue that, since the resort makes revenue from the sport, it should pay for any injuries that occur. However, because these injuries can be so expensive, one or two could put a resort out of business or double lift fees.

With other things, we amortize the risk over a larger population base. If you get injured while riding your Honda motorcycle unskillfully, you can't sue Honda because it didn't offer training wheels. Still, I believe society would ultimately foot the bill. A little consistency would be good.

Living in Japan, I see many resorts that close off all but the most boring of trails. I'd hate to see that as the new standard.

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