Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California personal injury case involving a plaintiff’s claim against a ski resort. While the opinion discussed several issues that are pertinent to California injury claims, most interesting was the court’s discussion of liability release waivers and the doctrine of assumption of the risk.
The Factual Scenario
Per the court’s holding, the plaintiff sustained a serious injury when she ran into a snowcat at the end of a day of snowboarding at a ski resort (the defendant). Evidently, the plaintiff ran into the back of the snowcat after it made an abrupt turn, cutting her off. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff was seriously injured. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the ski resort claiming that it was grossly negligent.
Apparently, the plaintiff was a season pass holder at the defendant ski resort. And before the plaintiff was issued her season pass, she signed a liability release waiver. The waiver indicated that the plaintiff understood that skiing and snowboarding were dangerous sports and that she released the resort from any liability “for any damage, injury or death . . . arising from participation in the sport or use of the facilities” regardless of the cause of the accident, including the “alleged negligence” of the resort. The agreement also provided a list of hazards that should be expected, including the possibility of “collisions with natural and man-made objects, including trees, rocks, fences, posts, lift towers, snowmaking equipment, snowmobiles and other over-snow vehicles.”