BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut ??вЂќ Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association President Richard Newman today testifies against a bill giving ski areas more protection from actions taken by injured patrons.
Given before the Connecticut Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Newman’s remarks explain that under Senate Bill 256, ski slope operators would only be liable if the injured plaintiff could prove that the ski slope operator’s negligence was the only cause of his injuries.
“The net result,” says Newman, “is that no longer would a ski operator be responsible for the proportionate share of medical bills and other damages associated with injuries resulting partly or mostly from his negligence; the operator would be responsible for nothing.”
Newman cites the example of a skier crashing into a snowmaking machine or other equipment carelessly left in the middle of a ski trail. Although the operator’s employees were negligent in leaving it there, the injured skier would collect nothing if the jury found that the skier’s speed, for instance, contributed even 1 percent to the skier’s collision with the machine.
“This bill upsets the balance that has long worked in Connecticut and many states, that requires responsibility from both the ski operator and the skier,” Newman says. “As the law now stands, skiers take the known risks associated with skiing, uneven terrain, etc. The skier expects that the operator has done all that is reasonably necessary – marking hazards, posting signs, padding lift towers, etc.”
In most cases, injuries at ski slopes do not lead to lawsuits against the operators. The Connecticut Supreme Court reviewed the existing law in 2004.