SKIER INJURED IN CRASH WITH SNOWBOARDER SAYS RESORT RESPONSIBLE

March 1, 2012

In Portland, you sometimes overhear people debating the wisdom of cars and bicycles sharing the road. Portland is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country and boasts miles of bike paths into and around the city. Still, there is always a chance that a bike and a car will collide, and it is hard to imagine that the bike and biker won’t suffer more damage than the car.

When it comes to ski slopes, there’s a similar debate brewing: Should snowboarders share the ski runs with skiers? A 54-year-old woman who suffered a brain injury in a recent ski accident likely has her own ideas on the subject.

The woman was skiing down an Olympic run at a resort on Feb. 22 when a resort employee on a snowboard crashed into her. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the woman says the employee was snowboarding in an unsafe, out-of-control manner; she also claims the resort is liable for its employee’s actions.

This is not the first such claim against the resort. Another woman, injured when an employee on a snowboard crashed into her in January 2011, filed suit late last year.

What makes the cases a little tricky is that the employees are not U.S. citizens. According to the complaint in this suit, the resort does not have liability insurance to cover its foreign employees. The complaint continues that the resort has told the victim that this is a skier-to-skier accident only; if the plaintiff wants to have medical and disability costs paid, she should pursue an action against the employee as an individual.

Just an hour away from Portland, on Mt. Hood, skiers can enjoy the longest ski season in the country. The next time you head to one of those ski areas, or to a ski resort anywhere else, make a note of the rules for snowboarders. Do they share the runs with skiers? Do skiers have the right-of-way?

We are continuing our discussion from the last post about a skier who suffered a brain injury while skiing when a resort employee on a snowboard crashed into her. The victim has filed a legal action against the resort; she claims the resort is responsible. The resort says the victim should look only to the employee for relief, but the employee has no liability insurance.

It is apparently a common practice for this and other resorts to hire foreign workers for the season. The workers are offered free ski passes and food discounts to make up for the low wages. None of them is covered by the resort’s insurance, and few, if any, have individual policies.

Skiers are supposed to have the right-of-way on downhill runs. The resort in this case has posted signs to that effect, but the plaintiff says that’s not enough. She claims the resort was negligent in its employee training; of all people out there, employees should know the rules.

The victim’s husband tears up when he tells what happened that day. He said he saw “an explosion,” and then looked over at his wife. “She wasn’t moving at all. I thought she was dead.” She was unconscious for a while before the ski patrol arrived.

Source: RGJ.com, “Second injured skier sues Heavenly parent company,” Martha Bellisle, March 4, 2012

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