18 Aug Release Signed Before Skiing Lesson Accident

When you take a skiing lesson, you normally sign a waiver which releases the ski hill and skiing instructor from liability, should you be hurt during the lesson. In the case of Braun v. Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership, 2016 BCSC 2259, the Plaintiff did sign a “release of liability, waiver of claims and assumption of risks” agreement. Even so, when he was injured during the lesson he sued both the ski hill and the ski instructor.

The Plaintiff’s ski lesson was geared towards finding challenging skiing and areas of undisturbed powder.  The accident occurred when the ski instructor led the group of mostly middle-aged skiers to the top of a chute.

The terrain they were skiing was in bounds but there is no doubt it was challenging.  Some skiers decided the chute was too challenging and one in particular slid down it on his backside rather than risk trying to ski it.  The Plaintiff was sure he had the ability to ski the chute, although it was at the top of his abilities.

The ski instructor went down the chute first and was followed by another skier, before the Plaintiff attempted it.   The Plaintiff made three to four short radius turns within the gully and was able to control his speed and direction.  However, at the bottom of the gully he hit a patch of ice unexpectedly and was injured.

The Court found that the Plaintiff assumed a risk on the basis of an assessment of his own abilities and that he negotiated the chute relatively effectively, but struck a patch of ice at the bottom.  Ice is a very common hazard of skiing, not only in areas of the sort that this group was skiing in, but generally.

The Court held that there was no way that the burden could be shifted to the Defendants from the Plaintiff’s own assumption of risk.  The Plaintiff’s case had no prospect of success.  The Court allowed the Defendant’s application and the Plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

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