Massachusetts Ski Law
Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 143, §§ 71I to 71S sets forth duties of ski area operators, passengers, and skiers. Most operator duties are fairly characterized as warning, notice, and marking requirements. Id. at § 71N. Operator compliance with statutory duties is evidence of due care in negligence cases. Id. at § 71P. Presumption of skier knowledge of, and assumption of, “unavoidable risks inherent in the sport.” Id. at § 71O. Skiers solely liable for skier/skier collisions. Id. Recreational tramways require licensure and are subject to state regulation. Id. at § 71K. To maintain suit against an operator, written notice with pertinent details must be provided within 90 days of incident unless operator had actual knowledge or could have discovered incident during that time period; in any event, statute of limitations is one year. Id. at § 71P. Registered members of the National Ski Patrol are granted unlimited immunity for rescue efforts, so long as made in good faith, per Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch 231 § 851.
Review below a few Ski Law cases from Massachusetts.
Prior to 2006
In Saldarini v. Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, 665 N.E.2d 79 (Mass. 1996), claim against ski area operator and arising from skier/skier collision on icy run was held barred by ski safety act (above). Bare spot declared an “unavoidable” and “inherent risk,” barring recovery by injured skier. McHerron v. Jiminy Peak, 665 N.E.2d 26 (Mass. 1996). However, skier can recover when negligently struck and injured by ski patroller, despite skier/skier collision immunity. Tilley v. Brodie Mountain Ski Area, Inc., 591 N.E.2d 202 (Mass. 1992). Ski area operator negligence or ski safety statute violation does not release skier’s claim from statutory scheme, including statute of limitations. Atkins v. Jiminy Peak, 514 N.E.2d 850 (Mass. 1987).