Ski Lift Accidents in Oregon

Skiers place immense trust in ski area operators that they will be able to safely ride at great heights on chair lifts. If something does go wrong, accidents and injuries can be extremely serious. In the words of a Colorado court, “[o]peration of a ski lift thus entails both greater danger and greater responsibility than circumstances involving ordinary care.” Indeed, Oregon law, which classifies the various types of ski lift as “amusement rides,” requires that owners or operators of the equipment “shall exercise the highest degree of care for the safety of users.” ORS 460.355(2).

While skiers are required by Oregon law not to use rope tows, j-bars, t-bars, or ski lifts if they lack the ability to use the equipment, ski area operators still owe a duty to skiers to keep machinery in good repair. Essentially, if your improper use of machinery is the sole cause of your injury, for example you fail to obey signposted instructions provided by the resort, then the resort is likely not liable for your injury. But if an equipment malfunction causes you to lose balance, fall, become trapped, or suffer other physical harm, the operator is likely liable for its negligence in the repair and maintenance of machinery.

The law only exonerates operators from liability for the inherent risks of skiing—operators are liable for their failure to provide safe lift machinery.

Colorado’s highest court ruled on this issue in Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Inc., 960 P.2d 70 (Colo. 1998). The lawsuit arose after the skier, Bayer, fell thirty feet from a double chair, center pole ski lift and suffered serious injuries. Bayer had fallen unconscious on the lift, and because there were no restraining devices when he slouched in the chair his body slipped out.

The court held, “[a] ski lift operator must exercise the highest duty of care commensurate with the lift’s practical operation, regardless of the season.” The reasons for such a high duty of care were threefold: “(1) passengers give up their freedom of action and movement, surrendering themselves to the care and custody of the ski lift operator, (2) there is usually nothing passengers can do to cause or prevent the accident, and (3) the operator has exclusive possession and control of the ski lift.”

Protect Yourself in the Event of a Ski Lift Accident

If you have been injured on a ski lift, Richard Rizk knows how to help. Call him today (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.

Learn More About Oregon Ski Accidents