Winter Sports Injuries and the Law By Worby Vecchio Edelman, LLP on January 14, 2016

lawMany people enjoy winter sports, and regularly participate in ice skating, skiing and snowboarding.  You should be aware that the law in New York can severely limit the liability of a facility owner or other participants for injuries suffered by someone engaged in these activities.  The White Plains accident attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman are experienced in these types of cases, and have represented accident victims injured under many different scenarios.

Winter Sports Injuries and Primary Assumption of Risk

The Courts in the State of New York recognize a legal doctrine known as “Primary Assumption of Risk”.  Under this doctrine, the owner of an athletic facility – a ski area, or ice skating rink, for example – has less of an obligation to protect you from injury than you might think.  For example, the owner of a skating rink is probably not responsible for renting out skates that don’t fit quite right; or for ruts, or cracks in the ice; or for another skater bumping in to you, even if that incident results in a very serious injury.  The owner of a ski area will probably not be liable for a fall due to a gap in the snow, or for a fall caused by icy snow.

However, prior notice of a dangerous condition to that same facility can abate the harshness of the doctrine.  If the owner of a skating rink is notified that its equipment is defective, and continues to use that equipment, liability is more likely to be found.  We cannot overemphasize that the precise facts of a situation will have a profound effect on the outcome of a case.

Who is Liable?

Generally speaking, a facility owner is not required to warn you of readily apparent risks.  Instead, the owner of that facility is required to make the facility only as safe as it appears to be.  The idea is that the Courts restrict legal liability in order to avoid imposing a chilling effect upon a facility of this nature staying in business.

This doctrine is not limited to participants; you can be a bystander, and still be affected.  One example is a parent watching her children skate at an indoor skating rink, who is struck by flying ice caused by another skater.  The extent of an accident victim’s assumption of the risk and a potential defendant's responsibility will vary depending upon the victim’s capacity to appreciate the risks of an activity.  One is deemed to have assumed the commonly appreciated risks inherent in and that arise out of the nature of the sport.

It’s Important to Know the Facts and Have Legal Representation

The outcome of these types of cases is very dependent upon the precise facts, so you should certainly obtain legal representation regardless of the type of accident.  A good rule of thumb is that the more open and obvious the risk and the more apparent the consequent risks, the more limited an owner’s responsibility will be to you.  As always, exceptions to this rule do exist.  If the particular facts indicate that the person who caused your accident acted in a reckless manner, you might be able to avoid the harshness of this doctrine.  If you bring a dangerous situation to the attention of an employee of a facility, there is more of a chance to avoid an assumption of risk defense.  The precise factual scenario will control, so it is important for you to remember and inform your legal representative as much about the accident as you can remember. 

Use your common sense.  If something looks dangerous, avoid it.  Pay attention, and be aware of your surroundings, and of the condition of any athletic facility that you visit.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Contact the accident attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman if you or a loved one are involved in a sports related or recreational accident, or any type of accident for a free, no obligation consultation.  We will answer all of your questions, analyze the precise facts of your situation, and give you an honest opinion on the merits of your case.  We will always treat you with the respect that you deserve.  There is never a fee unless we are successful.

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Team at Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP

Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP

The personal injury attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman, LLP, have advocated for the rights of injured clients for over 40 years. Our attorneys' affiliations and recognitions include:

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To schedule a free consultation at our law office, contact us online or call (914) 686-3700.

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