Utah Ski Law
Have you been injured while skiing in the state of Utah?
If you were the victim of a ski or snowboard collision in Utah, we may be able to help you recover money damages against the wrongdoer.. We have represented injured skiers and snowboarders in Utah, in skier collision cases and in ski area operator negligence cases, including lift accidents. We are not licensed in Utah, but we are ethically permitted to work on Utah cases with the help of our correspondent Utah counsel.
Keep reading on this page for help in understanding Utah ski law and for insights gained from our experience. If you choose to call us for a no-obligation/free consultation, please fill out and submit a contact form or call us on our main line at 303.861.1042. We will listen to your story and help you if we can. If it is an emergency, please call Jim Chalat on his cell at 303.882.4781. If he cannot pick up right away, he will forward your message to a partner at the firm. All the lawyers in the firm have extensive experience in representing injured skiers or snowboarders. The consultation is free, even if it is time-consuming and if we need to read records you have about the possible case. We are accessible to answer your questions even if you aren’t sure yet if you want to hire a lawyer; or if you want to hire other lawyers. The choice of your lawyer is solely your decision.
Utah Ski Law Highlights
- In ski law terminology, the word “skier” or “skiing” include alpine and nordic skiing, free-styling, skii jumping, sledding, tubing and snowboarding. UT ST § 78B-4-402
- The Utah Ski statute provides that ski area operators are not responsible for injuries due to the “inherent risks of skiing.” The inherent risks of skiing include changing weather, any snow conditions, or surface and below the snow conditions such as brush, forestation, streambeds; steepness; terrain parks, impact with lift towers, collisions with other skiers, ski racing. § 78B-4-402, 403.
- The statute expressly authorizes ski area operators to obtain waiver agreements from skiers to release ski area operators from a claim the skier may bring against a ski area operator. UT ST § 78B-4-406
- Any skier has a duty to exercise reasonable care while skiing. However, an inadvertent fall, by itself, can never establish negligence. Donovan v. Sutton, 498 P.2d 382 (UT 2021).
- The Utah Ski statute, unlike Colorado’s Ski Safety Act, does not establish standards of care relating to skier rights of way. However, Municipal Codes, County Ordinances, and industry standards such as the NSAA Skier Responsibility Code may be the basis to establish the applicable duty of care here. For instance, the Park City Municipal Code proscribes skiing or snowboarding “in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person” and places the primary duty on the uphill skier or snowboarder “to avoid collision with any person or object below him.” Park City, Utah, Mun. Code § 8-2-8(B). Donovan, supra.
Utah Ski Act history
- Utah’s original ski legislation was enacted in 1979 and was titled Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act. Feuerhelm, Lund, Chalat and Kunz, “From Wright to Sunday and Beyond,” 1985 No. 4 THE UTAH LAW REVIEW 885. Attached
- Under the original statute, the Utah Supreme Court had held that ski area operators had the duty to exercise reasonable care with respect to the inherent risks of skiing, but skiers assume those risks to the extent those risks which persist after a ski area operator’s exercise of reasonable care. Rutherford v. Talisker, 2019, 445 P.3d 474 (UT 2019).
- The Utah statute was rewritten in 2020. Notably, the 2020 statute codified the use of waivers which release ski area operators from a claim that a skier is permitted to bring “under this part.” Minor children are excluded from the waiver/release provisions.
- It is unclear whether the waiver and release provisions application to “this part,” would also extend to lift accidents. A separate Passenger Ropeway Systems Act controls the design, construction, and operational safety of aerial lifts, tramways, conveyors, and chairlifts. UT ST § 72-11-102, et seq. If you have been hurt due to the negligence of a ski area in the operation of its ski lifts, you should contact an attorney experienced in these cases to determine what your rights, if any, are under the law.
Skier/snowboarder collision cases
- Skiers may recover for the negligence of another skier. In Utah, skiers have a duty to ski reasonably and under control. Skiing and snowboarding cases for collision caused damages are actionable.
- See, John Nicholas KOTUN, by and through his guardian and conservator Marietta Kotun, v. Stuart HOWE, by and through his parent and general guardian, Richard G. Howe.District Court of Utah. January 08, 2008No. 070907467.2008 WL 8139840. Summary attached.
How do you prove fault?
You can help your lawyers in the early stages with the evidence in the case. Here are some items that are helpful:
- Your lift pass, and your lift pass scan data for the day in question. These may help us establish the timing of your last lift up, and to determine speed and location relative to the other party involved.
- Any photos or mobile phone data, such as tracking data, times of calls, texts.
- Preserve your clothing and equipment worn at the time of the collision. Usually the skis or board on which you were riding will have gouges, marks or damage which establish the relative positions and direction of travel of the parties involved.
- Any medical records, such as discharge summaries, CD’s with x-rays or scan data.
- The exchange of information form from Ski Patrol with the other party’s name, address, and contacts.
- Any ski patrol incident report forms which you get from Ski Patrol.
- The trail map for the area at which the incident occurred.
- Names and contact details of any witness who came forward and indicated that they had observed the accident.
- Any photos or videos of the scene.
In addition to the basics of skiing in control, avoiding collisions with things or people, keeping a lookout, here are some basic safety considerations for skiers and riders:
- Inspect your equipment. Your bindings should be adjusted professionally and serviced before the season. If you want to do this yourself, know what your correct DIN setting should be, be sure that your boots can releaser properly at the correct forward pressure and twist. Some professionals make sure they can kick out of their bindings to test the release function.
- Be sure to wear your glasses or contacts if you need them to see distances. Our rule is that if a person’s driver’s license is restricted for glasses while driving, a reasonable skier or snowboarder should wear his or her correction when skiing or riding. Acquire and wear goggles or, when appropriate, high altitude protective sunglasses with an adequate UV, polarizing and other safety standards.
- Wear clothes that enhance your visibility. White pants with a forest green parka is not an ideal outfit. You want to stand out; not blend into the background.
- Improve your fitness and your skill. Stay in shape to ski or ride. Take a lesson and work on your form, skill, turns, and control.
- Carry the most basic 1st aid gear. Carry your phone. Dial 911 if you need ski patrol. Most ski area ski patrol dispatch stations will get a forward from 911 if the caller identifies him or herself as at a ski area with an injury or other matter calling for attention.
Snowboarders, in addition to the above:
- The front foot should be attached to the board by the leash.
- Backside turns: look behind you and check your blind spot.
- Kneel or stand facing up the hill when stopped on a run; stay to the side of the trail.
- When riding a lift, detach your rear foot.
All Skiers and riders:
- Consideration of the other Skiers: Every skier has to behave in a way he or she doesn’t endanger or damage any other skier or snowboarder.
- Controlling of speed and way of skiing: Every skier has to ski on sight. He has to adapt his speed and way of skiing to his
- abilities and the conditions of the terrain, the snow and the weather as to the traffic density.
- Choice of track: The skier coming from behind another has to choose his track so that skiers before him won’t be endangered.
- Overtaking: Overtaking is allowed from above or below, from right or left but always with a distance so that the skier being overtaken has space enough for all his/her movements. Snowboarders be aware of your blind sport (left side for regular, right side for goofy) and check before making any maneuver.