Alaska Ski Safety Statute

Alaska Ski Safety Statute

TITLE 5. AMUSEMENTS AND SPORTS

CHAPTER 45. SKI LIABILITY, SAFETY, AND RESPONSIBILITY

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Alaska Stat. § 05.45.010 (2013)

Sec. 05.45.010. Limitation on actions arising from skiing

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person may not bring an action against a ski area operator for an injury resulting from an inherent danger and risk of skiing.

History: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

Notes Applicable To Entire Title

Revisor’s Notes.—The provisions of this title were redrafted in 1985 to remove personal pronouns pursuant to § 4, ch. 58, SLA 1982, and in 1981, 1985, 1989, 1994, and 2004 to make other minor word changes.

Notes Applicable To Entire Chapter

Cross References.—For safety, inspection and regulation of recreational devices, see AS 05.20; for legislative findings and purpose in connection with the enactment of this chapter, see § 1, ch. 63, SLA 1994 in the Temporary and Special Acts.

Sec. 05.45.020. Effect of violations

(a) A ski area operator or other person who violates a requirement of this chapter, a provision of a plan of operation prepared under AS 05.45.040, or a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development under AS 05.20.070 is negligent and civilly liable to the extent the violation causes injury to a person or damage to property.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of AS 09.17.080,

(1) the limitation of liability described under AS 05.45.010 is a complete defense in an action against a ski area operator for an injury if an inherent danger or risk of skiing is determined to be a contributory factor in the resulting injury, unless the ski area operator has violated a requirement of this chapter, a provision of a plan of operation prepared under AS 05.45.040, or a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development under AS 05.20.070;

(2) a violation of the passenger duties imposed under AS 05.45.030 or skier duties imposed under AS 05.45.100 is a complete defense in an action against a ski area operator if the violation is determined to be a contributory factor in the resulting injury, unless the ski area operator has violated a requirement of this chapter, a provision of a plan of operation prepared under AS 05.45.040, or a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development under AS 05.20.070.

(c) If the ski area operator is determined to have violated a requirement of this chapter, a provision of a plan of operation prepared under AS 05.45.040, or a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development under AS 05.20.070, the provisions of AS 09.17.080 apply in an action against a ski area operator for an injury resulting from the violation.

History: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

Notes: Revisor’s Notes.—In 1999, “Department of Labor” was changed to “Department of Labor and Workforce Development” in each subsection in accordance with § 90, ch. 58, SLA 1999.

User Note: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.030. Duties of passengers

(a) A passenger may not board a tramway if the passenger does not have

(1) sufficient physical dexterity or ability and knowledge to negotiate or use the facility safely; or

(2) the assistance of a person authorized by the ski area operator to assist a skier.

(b) A passenger may not

(1) embark upon or disembark from a tramway except at a designated area unless reasonably necessary to prevent injury to the passenger or others; this paragraph does not apply if the tramway stops and the operator assists the passengers to disembark from the tramway;

(2) intentionally throw or expel an object from a tramway while riding on the tramway, except as permitted by the operator;

(3) act while riding on a tramway in a manner that may interfere with proper or safe operation of the tramway;

(4) engage in conduct that may contribute to or cause injury to a person;

(5) intentionally place in an uphill track of a J-bar, T-bar, platter pull, rope tow, or another surface lift an object that could cause another skier to fall;

(6) embark upon a tramway marked as closed;

(7) disobey instructions posted in accordance with this chapter or oral instructions by the ski area operator regarding the proper or safe use of a tramway unless the oral instructions are contrary to this chapter or contrary to posted instructions.

History: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

User Note: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.040. Required plan and patrol by ski area operators

(a) A ski area operator shall prepare a plan of operation for each ski season and shall implement the plan throughout the ski season. A plan of operation must include written provisions for ski patrol, avalanche control, avalanche rescue, grooming procedures, tramway evacuation, hazard marking, missing person procedures, and first aid. Before the operation of the ski area for that season, the plan shall be reviewed and approved by the commissioner of natural resources except that if an agency of the United States manages the land on which the ski area operates, the plan shall be reviewed and approved by that agency. The commissioner of natural resources may require a ski area operator to pay a fee not to exceed the department’s cost of reviewing the plan, and may adopt regulations to implement this subsection.

(b) A ski area operator shall provide a ski patrol whose members meet or exceed the training standards of the National Ski Patrol System, Inc. This subsection does not apply to a ski area if the operator transports skiers using only a single tramway consisting of a rope tow, the rope tow does not transport skiers more than 500 vertical feet, and the ski area is operated by a nonprofit corporation or a municipality. In this subsection, “nonprofit corporation” means a corporation that qualifies for exemption from taxation under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) or (4) (Internal Revenue Code).

(c) Notwithstanding any other law, the state and the commissioner of natural resources are not civilly liable for damages resulting from an act or omission in reviewing, approving, or disapproving a plan of operation under (a) of this section.

History: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

User Note: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.050. Required signs for tramways; duties of operators

(a) A ski area operator who operates a tramway shall maintain a sign system with concise, simple, and pertinent information for the protection and instruction of passengers. Signs shall be prominently placed on each tramway, readable in conditions of ordinary visibility, and where applicable adequately lighted for nighttime passengers. Signs shall be posted

(1) at or near the loading point of each tramway, regardless of the type, advising that a person not familiar with the operation of the device must ask the operator of the device for assistance and instruction;

(2) in the interior of each two-car and multicar tramway showing

(A) the maximum capacity in pounds of the car and the maximum number of passengers allowed;

(B) instructions for procedures in emergencies;

(3) in a conspicuous place at each loading area of two-car and multicar tramways stating the maximum capacity in pounds of the car and the maximum number of passengers allowed;

(4) at all chair lifts stating the following:

(A) “Prepare to Unload,” which shall be located not less than 50 feet ahead of the unloading area;

(B) “Keep Ski Tips Up,” which shall be located ahead of any point where the skis may come in contact with a platform or the snow surface;

(C) “Unload Here,” which shall be located at the point designated for unloading;

(D) “Stop Gate,” which shall be located where applicable;

(E) “Remove Pole Straps from Wrists,” which shall be located prominently at each loading area;

(F) “Check for Loose Clothing and Equipment,” which shall be located before the “Prepare to Unload” sign;

(5) at all J-bars, T-bars, platter pulls, rope tows, and any other surface lift, stating the following:

(A) “Remove Pole Straps from Wrists,” which shall be placed at or near the loading area;

(B) “Stay in Tracks,” “Unload Here,” and “Safety Gate,” which shall be located where applicable;

(C) “Prepare to Unload,” which shall be located not less than 50 feet ahead of each unloading area;

(6) near the boarding area of all J-bars, T-bars, platter pulls, rope tows, and any other surface lift, advising passengers to check to be certain that clothing, scarves, and hair will not become entangled with the lift;

(7) at or near the boarding area of all lifts, stating the skier’s duty set out in AS 05.45.100(c)(2).

(b) Signs not specified by (a) of this section may be posted at the discretion of the ski area operator.

(c) A ski area operator, before opening the tramway to the public each day, shall inspect the tramway for the presence and visibility of the signs required by (a) of this section.

(d) A ski area operator shall post and maintain signs that are required by (a) of this section in a manner that they may be viewed during conditions of ordinary visibility.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)JHMoss

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.060. Required signs for trails and slopes; duties of operators

(a) A ski area operator shall maintain a sign and marking system as required in this section in addition to that required by AS 05.45.050. All signs required by this section shall be maintained so as to be readable and recognizable under conditions of ordinary visibility.

(b) A ski area operator shall post a sign recognizable to skiers proceeding to the uphill loading point of each base area lift that depicts and explains signs and symbols that the skier may encounter at the ski area. The sign must include the following:

(1) the least difficult trails and slopes, designated by a green circle and the word “easier”;

(2) the most difficult trails and slopes, designated by a black diamond and the words “most difficult”; trails intended for expert skiers may be marked with a double black diamond and the words “expert only”;

(3) the trails and slopes that have a degree of difficulty that falls between the green circle and the black diamond designation, designated by a blue square and the words “more difficult”;

(4) danger areas designated by a red exclamation point inside a yellow triangle with a red band around the triangle and the word “danger” printed beneath the emblem;

(5) closed trails or slopes designated by a sign with a circle or octagon around a figure in the shape of a skier with a band running diagonally across the sign from the upper right-hand side to the lower left-hand side and with the word “closed” printed beneath the emblem.

(c) If applicable, a sign shall be placed at or near the loading point of each tramway as follows:

WARNING: This lift services (most difficult) or (most difficult and more difficult) or (more difficult) slopes only.

(d) If a particular trail or slope or portion of a trail or slope is closed to the public by a ski area operator, the operator shall place a sign notifying the public of that fact at each identified entrance of each portion of the trail or slope involved. A slope without an entrance defined by terrain or forest growth may be closed with a line of signs in a manner readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility. This subsection does not apply if the trail or slope is closed with ropes or fences.

(e) A ski area operator shall

(1) place a sign at or near the beginning of each trail or slope, which must contain the appropriate symbol of the relative degree of difficulty of that particular trail or slope as described in (b) of this section; this paragraph does not apply to a slope or trail designated “easier” that to a skier is substantially visible in its entirety under conditions of ordinary visibility before beginning to ski the slope or trail;

(2) mark the ski area boundaries in a fashion readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility;

(3) mark that portion of the boundary with signs as required by (b)(5) of this section if the owner of land adjoining a ski area closes all or part of the land and notifies the ski area operator of the closure;

(4) mark hydrants, water pipes, and all other man-made structures on slopes and trails that are not readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility from a distance of at least 100 feet and adequately and appropriately cover man-made structures that create obstructions with a shock absorbent material that will lessen injuries; any type of marker is sufficient, including wooden poles, flags, or signs, if the marker is visible from a distance of 100 feet and if the marker itself does not constitute a serious hazard to skiers; in this paragraph, “man-made structures” does not include variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snow making, grooming operations, roads and catwalks, or other terrain modifications;

(5) mark exposed forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, trees, or other natural objects that are located on a slope or trail that is regularly used by skiers or that is regularly packed and prepared by a ski area operator using a snow vehicle and attached implements and that are not readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility from a distance of at least 100 feet;

(6) mark roads, catwalks, cliffs, or other terrain modifications that are not readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility from a distance of at least 100 feet;

(7) post and maintain signs that contain the warning notice specified in (g) of this section; the notice shall be placed in a clearly visible location at the ski area where lift tickets and ski school lessons are sold and in a position to be recognizable as a sign to skiers proceeding to the uphill loading point of each base area lift; the signs may not be smaller than three feet by three feet and must be white with black and red letters as specified in this paragraph; the word “WARNING” must appear on the sign in red letters; the warning notice specified in this paragraph must appear on the sign in black letters with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in height.

(f) A ski lift ticket sold or made available for sale to skiers by a ski area operator must contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in (g) of this section.

(g) The signs described in (e)(7) of this section and the lift tickets described in (f) of this section must contain the following warning notice:

WARNING

Under Alaska law, the risk of an injury to person or property resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing rests with the skier. Inherent dangers and risks of skiing include changing weather conditions; existing and changing snow conditions; bare spots, rocks, stumps and trees; collisions with natural objects, man-made objects, or other skiers; variations in terrain; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.070. Other duties of ski area operators

(a) A ski area operator shall equip a motorized snow-grooming vehicle with a light visible at any time the vehicle is moving on or in the vicinity of a ski slope or trail.

(b) When maintenance equipment is being employed to maintain or groom a ski slope or trail while the ski slope or trail is open to the public, the ski area operator shall place a conspicuous notice regarding the maintenance or grooming at or near the top of that ski slope or trail.

(c) A motor vehicle operated on the ski slope or trails of a ski area shall be equipped with at least

(1) one lighted head lamp;

(2) one lighted red tail lamp;

(3) a brake system maintained in operable condition; and

(4) a fluorescent flag at least 40 square inches mounted at least six feet above the bottom of the tracks.

(d) A ski area operator shall make available at reasonable fees, instruction and education regarding the inherent danger and risk of skiing and the duties imposed on skiers under this chapter. Notice of the availability of the instruction and education required under this subsection shall be placed in a clearly visible location at the ski area where lift tickets and ski school lessons are sold, in a position to be recognizable as a sign to skiers proceeding to the uphill loading point of each base area lift, and printed on equipment rental agreements.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.080. Skiers outside marked boundaries

A ski area operator does not have a duty arising out of the operator’s status as a ski area operator to a skier skiing beyond the area boundaries if the boundaries are marked as required by AS 05.45.060(e)(2).

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.090. Reckless skiers; revocation of skiing privileges

(a) A ski area operator shall develop and maintain a written policy covering situations involving reckless skiers, including a definition of reckless skiing, procedures for approaching and warning skiers regarding reckless conduct, and procedures for taking action against reckless skiers, including revocation of ski privileges. A ski area operator shall designate ski patrol personnel responsible for implementing the ski area operator’s policy regarding reckless skiers.

(b) A ski area operator, upon finding a person skiing in a careless and reckless manner, may revoke that person’s skiing privileges. This section may not be construed to create an affirmative duty on the part of the ski area operator to protect skiers from their own or from another skier’s carelessness or recklessness.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.100. Duties and responsibilities of skiers

(a) A skier is responsible for knowing the range of the skier’s own ability to negotiate a ski slope or trail and to ski within the limits of the skier’s ability. A skier is responsible for an injury to a person or property resulting from an inherent danger and risk of skiing, except that a skier is not precluded under this chapter from suing another skier for an injury to person or property resulting from the other skier’s acts or omissions. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the risk of a skier’s collision with another skier is not an inherent danger or risk of skiing in an action by one skier against another.

(b) A skier has the duty to maintain control of the skier’s speed and course at all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other skiers and objects. However, a person skiing downhill has the primary duty to avoid collision with a person or object below the skier.

(c) A skier may not

(1) ski on a ski slope or trail that has been posted as “closed” under AS 05.45.060(b)(5) and (d);

(2) use a ski unless the ski is equipped with a strap or other device capable of stopping the ski should the ski become unattached from the skier;

(3) cross the uphill track of a J-bar, T-bar, platter pull, or rope tow except at locations designated by the operator, or place an object in an uphill track;

(4) move uphill on a tramway or use a ski slope or trail while the skier’s ability is impaired by the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance as defined in AS 11.71.900 or other drug;

(5) knowingly enter upon public or private land from an adjoining ski area when the land has been closed by an owner and is posted by the owner or by the ski area operator under AS 05.45.060(e)(3).

(d) A skier shall stay clear of snow grooming equipment, vehicles, lift towers, signs, and other equipment on the ski slopes and trails.

(e) A skier has the duty to heed all posted information and other warnings and to refrain from acting in a manner that may cause or contribute to the injury of the skier or others. Evidence that the signs required by AS 05.45.050 and 05.45.060 were present, visible, and readable at the beginning of a given day creates a presumption that all skiers using the ski area on that day have seen and understood the signs.

(f) Before beginning to ski from a stationary position or before entering a ski slope or trail from the side, a skier has the duty to avoid moving skiers already on the ski slope or trail.

(g) Except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision, a skier involved in a collision with another skier or person that results in an injury may not leave the vicinity of the collision before giving the skier’s name and current address to the other person involved in the collision and to an employee of the ski area operator or a member of the voluntary ski patrol. A person who leaves the scene of a collision to obtain aid shall give the person’s name and current address as required by this subsection after obtaining aid.

(h) A person who violates a provision of (c) or (g) of this section is guilty of a violation as defined in AS 11.81.900. The commissioner of natural resources, a person designated by the ski area operator who is authorized by the commissioner, or an employee of the Department of Natural Resources authorized by the commissioner may issue a citation in accordance with the provisions of AS 41.21.960 to a person who violates (c) or (g) of this section within a ski area.

(i) The supreme court shall establish by rule or order a schedule of bail amounts that may be forfeited without a court appearance for a violation of (c) or (g) of this section.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994; am §§ 1, 2 ch 64 SLA 2004)

NOTES: EFFECT OF AMENDMENTS.—The 2004 amendment, effective September 14, 2004, deleted “over which the state has jurisdiction” at the end of subsection (h), and added subsection (i).

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.110. Competition; immunity for ski area operator

(a) The ski area operator shall, before the beginning of a ski competition, allow an athlete who will ski in the competition a reasonable visual inspection of the course or area where the competition is to be held.

(b) An athlete skiing in competition assumes the risk of all course or area conditions, including weather and snow conditions, course construction or layout, and obstacles that a visual inspection would have revealed. A ski area operator is not liable for injury to an athlete who skis in competition and who is injured as a result of a risk described in this subsection.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.120. Use of liability releases

(a) A ski area operator may not require a skier to sign an agreement releasing the ski area operator from liability in exchange for the right to ride a ski area tramway and ski in the ski area. A release that violates this subsection is void and may not be enforced.

(b) Notwithstanding (a) of this section, a ski area operator may

(1) require a special event coach, participant, helper, spectator, or rental customer to sign an agreement releasing the ski area operator from liability in exchange for the right to coach, participate, assist in, or observe the special event; or

(2) use a release agreement required by a third party as a condition of operating a rental program or special event at the ski area.

(c) In this section, “special event” means an event, pass, race, program, rental program, or service that offers competition or other benefits in addition to a ticket representing the right to ride a ski area tramway and ski on the ski slopes or trails, whether or not additional consideration is paid.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.

Sec. 05.45.200. Definitions

In this chapter,

(1) “base area lift” means a tramway that skiers ordinarily use without first using some other tramway;

(2) “conditions of ordinary visibility” means daylight or, where applicable, nighttime, in nonprecipitating weather;

(3) “inherent danger and risk of skiing” means a danger or condition that is an integral part of the sport of skiing, including changing weather conditions; snow conditions as they exist or may change, including ice, hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, and machine-made snow; surface or subsurface conditions including bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streams, streambeds, and trees, or other natural objects, and collisions with natural objects; impact with lift towers, signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, water pipes, other man-made structures, and their components; variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, including roads and catwalks or other terrain modifications; collision with other skiers; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities; the term “inherent danger and risk of skiing” does not include the negligence of a ski area operator under AS 05.45.020, or acts or omissions of a ski area operator involving the use or operation of ski lifts;

(4) “injury” means property damage, personal injury, or death;

(5) “passenger” means a person who is lawfully using a tramway;

(6) “ski area” means all downhill ski slopes or trails and other places under the control of a downhill ski area operator; “ski area” does not include a cross-country ski trail;

(7) “ski area operator” means a person having operational responsibility for a downhill ski area, and includes an agency of the state or a political subdivision of the state;

(8) “skier” means an individual using a downhill ski area for the purpose of

(A) skiing;

(B) sliding downhill on snow or ice on skis, a toboggan, a sled, a tube, a ski-bob, a snowboard, or another skiing or sliding device; or

(C) using any of the facilities of a ski area, including ski slopes and trails;

(9) “ski slopes or trails” means those areas designated by a ski area operator to be used by a skier;

(10) “tramway” means a device that is a passenger tramway, aerial or surface lift, ski lift, or rope tow regulated under AS 05.20.

HISTORY: (§ 2 ch 63 SLA 1994)

USER NOTE: For more generally applicable notes, see notes under the first section of this article, chapter or title.



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