Idaho Ski Safety Act

Idaho Ski Safety Act

IDAHO CODE

CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE

TITLE 6. ACTIONS IN PARTICULAR CASES

CHAPTER 11. RESPONSIBILITIES AND LIABILITIES OF SKIERS AND SKI AREA OPERATORS

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Idaho Code § 6-1101 (2012)

§ 6-1101. Legislative purpose

The legislature finds that the sport of skiing is practiced by a large number of citizens of this state and also attracts a large number of nonresidents, significantly contributing to the economy of Idaho. Since it is recognized that there are inherent risks in the sport of skiing which should be understood by each skier and which are essentially impossible to eliminate by the ski area operation, it is the purpose of this chapter to define those areas of responsibility and affirmative acts for which ski area operators shall be liable for loss, damage or injury, and to define those risks which the skier expressly assumes and for which there can be no recovery.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1101, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

ANALYSIS

When the legislature stated the legislative purpose of this chapter, it included the statement that “the sport of skiing is practiced by a large number of citizens of this state and also attracts a large number of nonresidents, significantly contributing to the economy of Idaho,” and since this was a legitimate legislative goal and satisfies the rational basis test, this chapter does not violate the equal protection clause of the constitution. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

In enacting this chapter, the legislature intended to limit rather than expand the liability of ski area operators. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

The government of Idaho clearly has a legitimate interest in promoting the sport of skiing, because the sport “significantly contribut[es] to the economy of Idaho.” This chapter bears a rational relationship to this interest because it clarifies the allocation of risks and responsibilities between ski area operators and skiers. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

This chapter immunizes ski area operators only from liability arising from risks inherent in the sport of skiing. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

CITED IN: Kirkland ex rel. Kirkland v. Blain County Med. Ctr., 134 Idaho 464, 4 P.3d 1115 (2000).

§ 6-1102. Definitions

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section.

(1) “Aerial passenger tramway” means any device operated by a ski area operator used to transport passengers, by single or double reversible tramway; chair lift or gondola lift; T-bar lift, J-bar lift, platter lift or similar device; or a fiber rope tow, which is subject to regulations adopted by the proper authority.

(2) “Passenger” means any person who is lawfully using an aerial passenger tramway, or is waiting to embark or has recently disembarked from an aerial passenger tramway and is in its immediate vicinity.

(3) “Ski area” means the property owned or leased and under the control of the ski area operator within the state of Idaho.

(4) “Ski area operator” means any person, partnership, corporation or other commercial entity and their agents, officers, employees or representatives, who has operational responsibility for any ski area or aerial passenger tramway.

(5) “Skiing area” means all designated slopes and trails but excludes any aerial passenger tramway.

(6) “Skier” means any person present at a skiing area under the control of a ski area operator for the purpose of engaging in the sport of skiing by utilizing the ski slopes and trails and does not include the use of an aerial passenger tramway.

(7) “Ski slopes and trails” mean those areas designated by the ski area operator to be used by skiers for the purpose of participating in the sport of skiing.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1102, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

§ 6-1103. Duties of ski area operators with respect to ski areas

Every ski area operator shall have the following duties with respect to their operation of a skiing area:

(1) To mark all trail maintenance vehicles and to furnish such vehicles with flashing or rotating lights which shall be in operation whenever the vehicles are working or are in movement in the skiing area;

(2) To mark with a visible sign or other warning implement the location of any hydrant or similar equipment used in snowmaking operations and located on ski slopes and trails;

(3) To mark conspicuously the top or entrance to each slope or trail or area, with an appropriate symbol for its relative degree of difficulty; and those slopes, trails, or areas which are closed, shall be so marked at the top or entrance;

(4) To maintain one or more trail boards at prominent locations at each ski area displaying that area’s network of ski trails and slopes with each trail and slope rated thereon as to it [its] relative degree of difficulty;

(5) To designate by trail board or otherwise which trails or slopes are open or closed;

(6) To place, or cause to be placed, whenever snowgrooming or snowmaking operations are being undertaken upon any trail or slope while such trail or slope is open to the public, a conspicuous notice to that effect at or near the top of such trail or slope;

(7) To post notice of the requirements of this chapter concerning the use of ski retention devices. This obligation shall be the sole requirement imposed upon the ski area operator regarding the requirement for or use of ski retention devices;

(8) To provide a ski patrol with qualifications meeting the standards of the national ski patrol system;

(9) To post a sign at the bottom of all aerial passenger tramways which advises the passengers to seek advice if not familiar with riding the aerial passenger tramway; and

(10) Not to intentionally or negligently cause injury to any person; provided, that except for the duties of the operator set forth in subsections (1) through (9) of this section and in section 6-1104, Idaho Code, the operator shall have no duty to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the risks inherent in the sport of skiing, which risks include but are not limited to those described in section 6-1106, Idaho Code; and, that no activities undertaken by the operator in an attempt to eliminate, alter, control or lessen such risks shall be deemed to impose on the operator any duty to accomplish such activities to any standard of care.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1103, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES: COMPILER’S NOTES. The national ski patrol provides training and education programs for emergency rescuers serving the outdoor recreation community. See http://www.nsp.org.

The bracketed word “its” in subsection (4) was inserted by the compiler.

When a skier ignores the ski area’s instructions to ski only on designated trails and embarks on an enterprise too difficult for someone of his ability, the ski area is not liable for his mishaps. Long v. Bogus Basin Recreational Ass’n, 125 Idaho 230, 869 P.2d 230 (1994).

Under this chapter, a ski area operator is not liable for the improper placement of a sign erected to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the inherent risks in skiing or for the improper design, construction or padding of a signpost that supported the sign. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

In personal injury action by skier injured when she tripped over a rope intended to guide people away from the exit ramp of a chair lift, summary judgment was properly granted to ski resort, as the rope was intended to eliminate, alter, control, or lessen the inherent risk of skiing. The accident was not caused by the construction, operation, maintenance or repair of the chairlift. Withers v. Bogus Basin Rec. Ass’n, 144 Idaho 78, 156 P.3d 579 (2007).

Setting up a NASTAR race course is a normal part of running a ski area, and thus, anything a ski area does to eliminate or lessen the inherent risks of skiing in connection with setting up the race course or protecting skiers from hazardous obstacles cannot be the basis of liability for negligence. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 774 F. Supp. 1253 (D. Idaho 1991), aff’d, 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

Under § 6-1106, anyone who strikes a ski lift tower while skiing is considered to have expressly assumed the risk and legal responsibility for any injury which results, and in addition, under subsection (10) of this section, anything a ski area operator does to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the risks associated with lift towers — such as placing a fence around a tower or padding it — could not result in the operator being held liable for negligence. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 774 F. Supp. 1253 (D. Idaho 1991), aff’d, 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

Ski area operator owed amateur race skier no duty to reduce the risk of his striking and injuring himself on a lift tower. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

If a ski area operator has no duty to accomplish any activity undertaken in an attempt to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the inherent risks of skiing and if the duties described in this section and § 6-1104 are the only duties an operator has with regard to the inherent risks of skiing, then it necessarily follows that any activity of an operator to fulfill those duties may not be held to be negligence, since the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

A ski area operator’s duty not to negligently cause injury refers to the failure to follow (1) any of the duties set forth in this section and § 6-1104 or (2) any duty that does not relate to eliminating, altering, controlling or lessening the inherent risks of skiing. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

While one of the duties imposed on ski area operators by this section is to mark conspicuously the top or entrance to each slope or trail or area, with an appropriate symbol for its relative degree of difficulty, even assuming that a ski area operator may not have properly located a sign or properly designed, constructed or padded the signpost, this chapter excludes any liability of ski area operator to the plaintiffs as a result of these activities; while subdivision (3) of this section did require ski area operator to mark the entrance to each of its slopes, trails or areas, subsection (10) of this section negates any duty to accomplish this marking to any standard of care. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

The duties described in this section and § 6-1104 are the only duties a ski area operator has with respect to the inherent risks of skiing and even anything an operator does to fulfill those duties cannot be held to be negligence because the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care, and in addition, anything else a ski area operator does to attempt to lessen the inherent risks of skiing cannot result in liability for negligence for that action. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 774 F. Supp. 1253 (D. Idaho 1991), aff’d, 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

In conducting training sessions, the defendant foundation did not have the responsibility to fulfill the duties under this section; the mere fact that the defendant foundation set up the course within the ski area did not make them a “ski operator.” By setting up the course the defendant foundation was not engaged in any duties or activities of a “ski area operator.” By making use of the ski area for training, defendant foundation did not exercise “operational responsibility” for the ski area, and the court correctly denied defendant’s summary judgment on that basis. Davis v. Sun Valley Ski Educ. Found., Inc., 130 Idaho 400, 941 P.2d 1301 (1997).

A ski area operator does not have the duty to provide a ski patrol that will determine the identity of a skier who was involved in a ski accident with another skier. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

An injury to the body caused by falling while skiing in an unmarked, ungroomed area is an inherent risk of skiing and a ski resort had no duty to take some kind of affirmative steps to have prevented skier from being injured. Long v. Bogus Basin Recreational Ass’n, 125 Idaho 230, 869 P.2d 230 (1994).

§ 6-1104. Duties of ski area operators with respect to aerial passenger tramways

Every ski area operator shall have the duty to construct, operate, maintain and repair any aerial passenger tramway in accordance with the American national standards safety requirements for aerial passenger tramways.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1104, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES: COMPILER’S NOTES. The American national standards institute’s current publication covering tramway safety is ANSI B77.1-2006, “Passenger Ropeway & Aerial Tramways, Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows and Conveyors — Safety Requirement.”

ANALYSIS

In personal injury action by skier injured when she tripped over a rope intended to guide people away from the exit ramp of a chair lift, summary judgment was properly granted to ski resort, as the rope was intended to eliminate, alter, control, or lessen the inherent risk of skiing. The accident was not caused by the construction, operation, maintenance or repair of the chairlift. Withers v. Bogus Basin Rec. Ass’n, 144 Idaho 78, 156 P.3d 579 (2007).

If a ski area operator has no duty to accomplish any activity undertaken in an attempt to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the inherent risks of skiing and if the duties described in § 6-1103 and this section are the only duties an operator has with regard to the inherent risks of skiing, then it necessarily follows that any activity of an operator to fulfill those duties may not be held to be negligence, since the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

A ski area operator’s duty not to negligently cause injury refers to the failure to follow (1) any of the duties set forth in § 6-1103 and this section or (2) any duty that does not relate to eliminating, altering, controlling or lessening the inherent risks of skiing. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

The duties described in § 6-1103 and this section are the only duties a ski area operator has with respect to the inherent risks of skiing and even anything an operator does to fulfill those duties cannot be held to be negligence because the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care; in addition, anything else a ski area operator does to attempt to lessen the inherent risks of skiing cannot result in liability for negligence for that action. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 774 F. Supp. 1253 (D. Idaho 1991), aff’d, 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

§ 6-1104. Duties of ski area operators with respect to aerial passenger tramways

Every ski area operator shall have the duty to construct, operate, maintain and repair any aerial passenger tramway in accordance with the American national standards safety requirements for aerial passenger tramways.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1104, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES: COMPILER’S NOTES. The American national standards institute’s current publication covering tramway safety is ANSI B77.1-2006, “Passenger Ropeway & Aerial Tramways, Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows and Conveyors — Safety Requirement.”

In personal injury action by skier injured when she tripped over a rope intended to guide people away from the exit ramp of a chair lift, summary judgment was properly granted to ski resort, as the rope was intended to eliminate, alter, control, or lessen the inherent risk of skiing. The accident was not caused by the construction, operation, maintenance or repair of the chairlift. Withers v. Bogus Basin Rec. Ass’n, 144 Idaho 78, 156 P.3d 579 (2007).

If a ski area operator has no duty to accomplish any activity undertaken in an attempt to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the inherent risks of skiing and if the duties described in § 6-1103 and this section are the only duties an operator has with regard to the inherent risks of skiing, then it necessarily follows that any activity of an operator to fulfill those duties may not be held to be negligence, since the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

A ski area operator’s duty not to negligently cause injury refers to the failure to follow (1) any of the duties set forth in § 6-1103 and this section or (2) any duty that does not relate to eliminating, altering, controlling or lessening the inherent risks of skiing. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

The duties described in § 6-1103 and this section are the only duties a ski area operator has with respect to the inherent risks of skiing and even anything an operator does to fulfill those duties cannot be held to be negligence because the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care; in addition, anything else a ski area operator does to attempt to lessen the inherent risks of skiing cannot result in liability for negligence for that action. Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 774 F. Supp. 1253 (D. Idaho 1991), aff’d, 21 F.3d 1491 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 962, 115 S. Ct. 422, 130 L. Ed. 2d 337 (1994).

§ 6-1105. Duties of passengers

Every passenger shall have the duty not to:

(1) Board or embark upon or disembark from an aerial passenger tramway except at an area designated for such purpose;

(2) Drop, throw or expel any object from an aerial passenger tramway;

(3) Do any act which shall interfere with the running or operation of an aerial passenger tramway;

(4) Use any aerial passenger tramway if the passenger does not have the ability to use it safely without instruction until the passenger has requested and received sufficient instruction to permit safe usage;

(5) Embark on an aerial passenger tramway without the authority of the ski area operator;

(6) Use any aerial passenger tramway without engaging such safety or restraining devices as may be provided.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1105, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

§ 6-1106. Duties of skiers

It is recognized that skiing as a recreational sport is hazardous to skiers, regardless of all feasible safety measures which can be taken.

Each skier expressly assumes the risk of and legal responsibility for any injury to person or property which results from participation in the sport of skiing including any injury caused by the following, all whether above or below snow surface: variations in terrain; surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions; bare spots, rocks, trees, other forms of forest growth or debris, lift towers and components thereof; utility poles, and snowmaking and snowgrooming equipment which is plainly visible or plainly marked in accordance with the provisions of section 6-1103, Idaho Code. Therefore, each skier shall have the sole individual responsibility for knowing the range of his own ability to negotiate any slope or trail, and it shall be the duty of each skier to ski within the limits of the skier’s own ability, to maintain reasonable control of speed and course at all times while skiing, to heed all posted warnings, to ski only on a skiing area designated by the ski area operator and to refrain from acting in a manner which may cause or contribute to the injury of anyone. The responsibility for collisions by any skier while actually skiing, with any person, shall be solely that of the individual or individuals involved in such collision and not that of the ski area operator.

No person shall place any object in the skiing area or on the uphill track of any aerial passenger tramway which may cause a passenger or skier to fall; cross the track of any T-bar lift, J-bar lift, platter lift or similar device, or a fiber rope tow, except at a designated location; or depart when involved in a skiing accident, from the scene of the accident without leaving personal identification, including name and address, before notifying the proper authorities or obtaining assistance when that person knows that any other person involved in the accident is in need of medical or other assistance.

No skier shall fail to wear retention straps or other devices to help prevent runaway skis.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1106, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

§ 6-1107. Liability of ski area operators

Any ski area operator shall be liable for loss or damages caused by its failure to follow the duties set forth in sections 6-1103 and 6-1104, Idaho Code, where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered. The ski area operators shall not be liable to any passenger or skier acting in violation of their duties as set forth in sections 6-1105 and 6-1106, Idaho Code, where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered; nor shall a ski area operator be liable for any injury or damage to a person who is not legally entitled to be in the ski area; or for any loss or damages caused by any object dropped, thrown or expelled by a passenger from an aerial passenger tramway.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1107, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

When a skier ignores the ski area’s instructions to ski only on designated trails and embarks on an enterprise too difficult for someone of his ability, the ski area is not liable for his mishaps. Long v. Bogus Basin Recreational Ass’n, 125 Idaho 230, 869 P.2d 230 (1994).

This chapter immunizes ski area operators only from liability arising from risks inherent in the sport of skiing. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

In enacting this chapter, the legislature intended to limit rather than expand the liability of ski area operators. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

If a ski area operator has no duty to accomplish any activity undertaken in an attempt to eliminate, alter, control or lessen the inherent risks of skiing and if the duties described in §§ 6-1103 and 6-1104 are the only duties an operator has with regard to the inherent risks of skiing, then it necessarily follows that any activity of an operator to fulfill those duties may not be held to be negligence, since the operator had no duty to accomplish the activity to any standard of care. Northcutt v. Sun Valley Co., 117 Idaho 351, 787 P.2d 1159 (1990).

An injury to the body caused by falling while skiing in an unmarked, ungroomed area is an inherent risk of skiing and a ski resort had no duty to take some kind of affirmative steps to have prevented skier from being injured. Long v. Bogus Basin Recreational Ass’n, 125 Idaho 230, 869 P.2d 230 (1994).

§ 6-1108. Liability of passengers

Any passenger shall be liable for loss or damages resulting from violations of the duties set forth in section 6-1105, Idaho Code, and shall not be able to recover from the ski area operator for any losses or damages where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1108, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

§ 6-1109. Liability of skiers

Any skier shall be liable for loss or damages resulting from violations of the duties set forth in section 6-1106, Idaho Code, and shall not be able to recover from the ski area operator for any losses or damages where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered.

HISTORY: I.C., § 6-1109, as added by 1979, ch. 270, § 1, p. 701.

NOTES:

A.L.R.

Skier’s liability for injuries to or death of another person. 75 A.L.R.5th 583.



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