Oregon Ski Spectator Accidents

At certain events, spectators can be lined up alongside or at the bottom of a ski route during competitive skiing. While those engaged in skiing can be presumed to appreciate those dangers inherent in skiing that are reasonably obvious, necessary, or expected, such as collisions with other skiers, the same does not necessarily apply to spectators.

The example often used in tort law is that of the baseball park. Spectators attend the game knowing that balls may fly into the stand. In areas where foul balls are frequently expected to go, the ball park operator owes a limited duty to spectators to erect some form of protection, such as netting or fences. However, a ballpark would probably not be liable for an injury to an inattentive spectator who is hit by a home run deep in the outfield viewing section.

Similarly, ski area operators owe a limited duty to protect spectators on, for example, a fast curve. Last year, a Pennsylvania federal court refused the ski area operator’s motion for summary judgment after a spectator was hit by a skier. See Barillari v. Ski Shawnee, Inc, Civ. No. 3:12-CV-00034 (D. Pa. 2013). The plaintiff was a skier who was run into by a skier while she was standing in a group of spectators. The judge distinguished between the voluntary assumption of risk of collisions by those who are engaged in skiing, and the lack of a specific awareness of the danger of collisions possessed by a spectator. The judge concluded that the plaintiff lacked “the requisite conscious appreciation of the specific risk of harm that caused her injury,” which meant the voluntary assumption of risk doctrine did not apply. The judge also decided that rejecting the “no-duty” rule as applied to ski area operators would not impede the sport of skiing because of the simple measures that could be taken, such as fencing.

Protect Yourself in the Event of an Spectator Accident.

If you have been hurt while spectating at a skiing event, you need to ensure that your injuries are taken care of and that the responsible party makes recompense for their actions. Call Richard Rizk, Portland Attorney at Law at (503) 245-5677 today for a free consultation.

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