Maine Skiing Accidents

Each year in Maine people are killed in snow skiing and snowboarding accidents.  Many more sustain serious injuries, including paralysis and brain damage.

While skiing can result in injuries and death, not all are the fault of the injured skier.  At Skelton, Taintor & Abbott, we have been representing people seriously injured in skiing accidents at Sugarloaf USA, Sunday River, and Shawnee Peak, among others, for many years.

There are three types of cases that result from serious skiing injuries:

  1. Claims against the resort or the ski area.
  2. Claims against the manufacturer of equipment, such as a defective ski lift.
  3. Claims against the individual who caused the accident.

1. Claims Against the Resort.  In Maine there is a statute which limits claims against ski resorts.  The statute specifically states that skiers assume the risks inherent in the sport of skiing including:

“. . . existing and changing weather conditions; existing and changing snow conditions, such as ice, hard pack, powder, packed powder, slush and granular corn crust cut up and the machine made snow; surface or subsurface conditions such as dirt, air, spots, forest growth rocks, dumps, trees, and other natural objects and collisions with or falls resulting from such natural objects; lift towers, lights, signs, posts, fences, mazes, or enclosures, hydrants, water or air pipes, snowmaking and snow grooming equipment, marked or lit trail maintenance vehicles and snowmobiles, and other manmade structures or objects and their components, and collisions with or falls resulting from such manmade objects; variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design; snowmaking or snow grooming operations including, but not limited to freestyle terrain, jumps, roads and catwalks or other terrain modifications; the presence of and collision with other skiers in the failure of skiers to ski safely in control or within their own abilities.”

In spite of this broad language, the statute goes on to make it clear that ski resorts may be held liable for the negligent operation or maintenance of the ski area, and negligent design, construction, and operation.  In reviewing cases such as this, the Maine Supreme Court has found that skiing into a snowmaking hydrant is an inherent risk, whereas on another occasion, the court found that striking a manmade ditch across the ski slope is not within the inherent risk.

In addition, a ski resort or operator of a ski area may be liable for failure to properly inspect or maintain the equipment it provides, such as ski lifts.   Ski lifts must be periodically inspected and kept in safe operating condition.  If this is not done, this equipment can become unsafe and severe injuries or death can result.  For instance, a ski lift cable could break or come off the supporting structure, resulting in serious injury or death due to a fall.

Therefore, it is critical for your case to have competent experts who will testify and prove that the ski operation was careless.

2. Claims Against Other Skiers.  The other type of case is a collision or near collision with other skiers.  Maine statute requires that a skier involved in a collision to not leave the vicinity of the collision before giving his or her name to an employee or representative of the ski mountain.

Often a person causing a ski accident will live in a household with homeowners insurance.  If they do, most homeowner insurers will provide coverage to the negligent skier, even if that skier is a child.

3.  Claims Against the Manufacturer of Equipment, such as Ski Lift accidents.    If the equipment used by the ski resort is unsafe or defective, the manufacturer may be liable for damages because of the defective or unsafe condition of the equipment.  Again, for example, if a chair falls from a ski lift or a cable breaks, and this causes injuries to skiers, the manufacturer as well as the resort may be liable.

Call Us For Help. If you have been injured in a skiing accident, experienced personal injury lawyers at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott are very familiar with the special laws which apply to ski areas and skiers.  We have helped clients injured in ski accidents at major ski areas around the state.  If you have been injured in a skiing accident and want to learn more about your legal options, contact us at 1-800-639-7026 or contact us online.