Washington Ski Law

Ski cases governed by ski safety act’s codification of common law negligence, with most enumerated duties falling on skiers. Because of the inherent risks in the sport of skiing all persons using the ski hill shall exercise reasonable care for their own safety. The primary duty shall be on the person skiing downhill to avoid any collision with any person or object below him or her.  Operators have signage and minimum insurance requirements. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 79A.45.010 to 79A.45.060. Conveyances (tramways, lifts, etc.) for persons involved in recreational activities, including skiing, are regulated at §§ 79A.40.010 to 79A.40.100, which expressly states that operators are not common carriers.


In a case where a skier was injured from colliding into a fixed metal fence post embedded in concrete, the court held that no provision in the ski statute per se immunized defending resort from liability for skier collisions with resort-placed equipment. Brown v. Stevens Pass, Inc., 984 P.2d 448 (Wash. Ct. App. 1999) (also largely upholding the status quo of common law negligence as it pertains to ski law). A skier’s claim arising from his collision with manmade obstacles set up by resort owner for a snowboarding competition later in the day was dismissed pursuant to a comprehensive waiver, unread, but nonetheless signed, to receive a discounted lift ticket Chauvlier v. Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc., 35 P.3d 383 (Wash. Ct. App. 2001). An exculpatory clause executed by parents on behalf of a child in a racing program was found void as against public policy and did not bar child’s cause of action. The court further held that doctrine of primary implied assumption of risk continued as a complete bar to recovery after adoption of comparative negligence laws (contrary to the holding in Vermont’s Sunday case), but need not always be applied as a complete bar. Scott v. Pacific West Mountain Resort, 834 P.2d 6 (Wash. 1992).