Tennessee Ski Law
Tennessee’s “Ski Area Safety & Liability Act,” Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 68-114-101 et seq., provides for statutory assumption of inherent risks by skiers and tramway passengers, and immunizes operators for falls, collisions (in particular, skier/skier collisions), and some tramway accidents, provided that the operator is not in breach of a statutorily-enumerated duty. The responsibility for collisions by any skier while actually skiing, with any person or object, shall be solely that of the skier or skiers involved in the collision and not that of the ski area operator. Operator duties include signs and warnings, and mandatory insurance coverage. Tramways must be designed, constructed, and maintained according to ANSI standards, and the operation of a tramway does not make one a common carrier. Id. at § 68-114-105. Any action against a ski area operator for injuries to any skier or passenger must be filed within one year of the accident and notice of alleged violation of ski area safety act must be given operator within 90 days of accident. § 68-114-107.
In an unreported case involving a rented, poorly-adjusted binding failing to release and causing injury, the Court of Appeals rejected the suggestion that the legislature intended the ski safety act to grant operators blanket liability covering their own negligence. Terry v. Ober Gatlinburg, Inc., 1998 WL 54700 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998). The court determined that operators still had potential liability for negligent rental operations. In a surprising bit of reasoning, the court determined that the Act was inapplicable in the case; although the skier fell on the slopes, the alleged negligence (poor adjustment of rental binding) occurred earlier, before the skier was “engaged in the sport of downhill skiing.”