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Court Dismisses Snowboarder’s Case Against Resort Based on Assumption of the Risk: How Florida Courts May Differ

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating an important difference between Florida personal injury law and the laws of many other states. The case involved the defendant’s allegation that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury and thus, should be precluded from obtaining compensation for her injuries.

Assumption of the Risk

In some states, if it is determined that a plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risks that resulted in her injuries the plaintiff is not allowed to recover for her injuries. The theory is that a person who is aware of the risks involved in an activity is able to weigh the risks before engaging in a particular activity. In general, Florida courts will not preclude a plaintiff from recovering for her injuries even if she was determined to have assumed the risk of injury. Instead, the court will allow the jury to factor the assumption-of-the-risk analysis into its comparative negligence finding.

There are, however, two exceptions to this rule, one of which is the participation in contact sports. If a plaintiff is injured while engaging in a contact sport, they may be found to have assumed the risks involved. The other exception involves a situation where a person signs a contract agreeing not to sue.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a season-pass holder at the defendant ski resort. Before she was provided her season pass, the plaintiff signed a liability release waiver, indicating that she was aware of the dangers inherent in the sports of skiing and snowboarding, and that she agreed not to hold the resort liable for injuries occurring as a result of these inherent risks.

Evidently, on the plaintiff’s final run of the day, she collided with a snow-grooming vehicle. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff’s leg had to be amputated. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the resort, arguing that it was responsible for her injuries. The ski resort argued that the risk of sharing a ski run with a snow-grooming vehicle was inherent in the sport of skiing, and thus it was covered under the signed liability release waiver.

The Court’s Opinion

The court began by acknowledging that snow-grooming equipment is hazardous and can cause catastrophic injury. However, the court agreed with the ski resort that the presence of snow-grooming equipment on a run is a risk that is inherent to skiing and snowboarding. The court explained that nothing indicated that the resort was grossly negligent in the operation of the equipment, and thus the plaintiff’s claim was precluded by the liability release waiver.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has recently suffered a serious injury after a Florida sports accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience assisting Florida injury victims and their families in their pursuit of the compensation they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Declines to Impose Duty on Landowner to Trim Trees Near Intersection, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 29, 2018.

Maintenance Company May Be Liable for Restaurant Employee’s Injuries Following Slip-and-Fall Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 13, 2018.

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