Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a ski resort could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries that occurred while she was snowboarding. The case presents interesting issues for Washington, D.C. accident victims who have been injured while engaging in a recreational activity such as skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, bicycling, or any other outdoor activity that takes place on another’s property with their permission.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a season-pass holder at the defendant ski resort. Prior to obtaining her season pass, the plaintiff signed a liability-release from, acknowledging certain inherent risks associated with skiing and snowboarding “posed by variations in terrain and snow conditions, . . . unmarked obstacles, . . . devices, . . . and other hazards whether they are obvious or not. . . collisions with natural and man-made objects, including . . . snow making equipment, snowmobiles and other over-snow vehicles.” The waiver also contained a clause agreeing not to hold the ski resort liable for injuries caused by its own negligence.
Evidently, on her last run of the day, the plaintiff collided with a snow-cat, which is a large vehicle that grooms ski runs, making them smoother and more enjoyable to ski on. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the ski resort.
The plaintiff claimed that the ski resort was grossly negligent in the operation of the snow-cat. Specifically, she claimed that it was grossly negligent to operate the machine during times when skiers were on the hill. The ski resort claimed that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved in skiing and that she should not be permitted to bring the case based on her assumption of the risks involved.
In support of her claim, the plaintiff intended on calling three expert witnesses, each of whom would testify that the ski resort was grossly negligent. However, the court precluded the experts’ testimony, finding their testimony irrelevant to the question of whether the plaintiff assumed the risks involved in skiing. The court then dismissed the plaintiff’s case, and the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court agreed that the experts’ testimony was irrelevant and properly excluded from evidence. The court explained that the question presented by the case was whether the plaintiff was aware of the risks involved in skiing and voluntarily assumed those risks. The court explained that the plaintiff indicated she was aware of those risks when she signed the liability release waiver. The court noted that the plaintiff’s proposed experts were only prepared to testify that the resort was grossly negligent by operating the snow-cat during times when skiers were on the hill. Thus, the court determined that the experts’ testimony did not go to the heart of the question presented to the jury and was properly excluded from evidence.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Recreational Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while engaging in any type of recreational activity such as, skiing, snowboarding, zip-lining, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, or any other similar activity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated attorneys at the Washington, D.C. personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of collective experience assisting injury victims and their families pursue and obtain the compensation they deserve. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
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