When you buy a ski pass to a mountain you have to sign a waiver. Most often you don't read this waiver. But if you did, you'd find that you just signed away your liability towards that ski area.
By signing the waiver the ski area is in no way liable for any harm/damages that you sustain while skiing there. By signing you assume all responsibility for what happens on the ski area's slopes, even if it's the ski area's fault.
In 2017 A 55-year-old woman in Colorado was hit by a swinging chair that caused her 13 injuries and immediate hospitalization. She underwent several surgeries and experienced prolonged pain. However, before the accident occurred, the woman signed two waivers in order to get her Epic Season Pass that allowed her skiing at that Colorado resort. Those waivers ended up barring her from taking legal action against Vail Resorts after she got hurt.
The waiver you sign when purchasing an Epic Pass from Vail Resorts bars you from suing the company. At the top of that liability waiver, you will find a bolded and highlighted statement that often reads something like "Warning: Please read carefully before signing!"
As you read farther down on your waiver that you just signed, you will see that you signed away your right to sue or make any claims for any injury, including death, even if the claims are based on resort negligence. This is standard language at all ski areas.
"In consideration for allowing Participant to participate in the Activity, I AGREE, to the greatest extent permitted by law, TO WAIVE ANY AND ALL CLAIMS AGAINST AND TO HOLD HARMLESS, RELEASE, INDEMNIFY, AND AGREE NOT TO SUE Vail Resorts, Inc., The Vail Corporation, Trimont Land Company, Heavenly Valley, Limited Partnership, VR US Holdings, Inc., VR US Holdings II, LLC, VR CPC Holdings, Inc., VR NW Holdings, Inc., VR NE Holdings, LLC, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises Limited Partnership, Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership, each of their affiliated companies and subsidiaries, the resort owner/operator, land owner, activity operator, the equipment manufacturer, The Burton Corporation, Beaver Creek Resort Company, Dundee Resort Development, LLC d/b/a Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, the United States, Her Majesty The Queen In Right Of The Province Of British Columbia and all their respective insurance companies, successors in interest, commercial & corporate sponsors, affiliates, agents, employees, representatives, assignees, officers, directors, and shareholders (each a “Released Party”) FOR ANY INJURY, INCLUDING DEATH, LOSS, PROPERTY DAMAGE OR EXPENSE, WHICH I OR PARTICIPANT MAY SUFFER, ARISING IN WHOLE OR IN PART OUT OF PARTICIPANT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE ACTIVITY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THOSE CLAIMS BASED ON ANY RELEASED PARTY’S ALLEGED OR ACTUAL NEGLIGENCE OR BREACH OF ANY CONTRACT AND/OR EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OR BREACH OF ANY STATUTORY OR OTHER DUTY OF CARE, INCLUDING ANY DUTY OF CARE UNDER THE OCCUPIERS LIABILITY ACT IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. I UNDERSTAND THAT NEGLIGENCE INCLUDES FAILURE ON THE PART OF ANY RELEASED PARTY TO TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO SAFEGUARD OR PROTECT AGAINST THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS OF THE ACTIVITY"
There is also a section on most liability waivers dictating that a ski area may confiscate your pass in the event you are not following the skier code or the resort's safety guidelines. That includes actions like ducking ropes or skiing recklessly. Just keep that in mind.
So the next time you're filled with excitement, hurriedly buying that season pass with a gleam of stoke in your eye, take a moment to become familiar with what it is exactly you're signing. That way, you'll know the conditions you have just agreed to and can be on the same page with your ski area and its safety guidelines. Because if something happens, you get hurt and try to sue -- you will probably lose.
A standard release of liability waiver found at North American ski areas. Credit: hauerandco.com
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