Ski Hill Accidents | Watson Goepel Vancouver Lawyers
Ski Hill Injuries

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Injured in a ski resort accident? You may now have a claim.

Apps v Grouse Mountain Resorts

Traditionally, if an individual was injured in a ski or snowboard accident at a ski resort and had signed the required liability waiver, they had little to no chance of a successful injury claim, and would, therefore, be responsible for any and all costs related to their treatment, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. After a recent BC Court of Appeal case, this may be changing.

A recent decision of the BC Court of Appeal, Apps v Grouse Mountain Resorts Ltd., 2019 BCSC 855, has shaken this assumption of liability by bringing into question the way in which resorts communicate liability to the public, and whether standard practices are sufficient to absolve themselves of responsibility in the event of an injury.

In Apps v Grouse Mountain Resorts, a 20-year-old snowboarder from Australia became a quadriplegic after suffering a spinal injury during a run in the Grouse Mountain Resorts terrain park. While attempting a jump on a park feature labeled “XL”, Mr. Apps landed upside down on the knuckle (a raised area) before the landing slope, resulting in a catastrophic injury.

Grouse Mountain Resorts sued

Mr. Apps sued Grouse Mountain Resorts, alleging negligence and breach of contract, among other claims. Grouse Mountain Resorts argued they were not liable, focusing on three central tenets.

  1. The existence of a message printed on both a sign above the ticket booth and the lift ticket itself stating that Grouse Mountain Resorts is not liable for any injuries sustained on the hill.
  2. Warning signs posted in the terrain park where the injury occurred.
  3. Due to previous ski resort experience, Mr. Apps should have been familiar with the waiver of liability at Grouse Mountain Resorts.

The appeal

While Grouse Mountain Resorts’ defense was initially successful at trial, the verdict was overturned on appeal on the grounds that Grouse Mountain Resorts did not take reasonable steps to ensure that Mr. Apps was aware of the liability implications prior to his purchase of the lift ticket. The Court of Appeal found that:

  1. Signage in the terrain park could not have been seen by Mr. Apps until well after he purchased his lift ticket, and that the appropriate time for providing notice of risk should be prior to the purchase of the ticket when a purchaser could have read the terms and then decided whether they were still willing to continue with the transaction.
  2. The notice at the ticket booth was difficult to read, the liability messaging was not adequately highlighted or emphasized, and it was unrealistic to expect someone approaching the ticket booth to stop in front of the window and read the sign, as it was positioned away from where the purchaser would be focused when buying their ticket.
  3. App’s experience at other resorts such as Whistler was not sufficient to inform his risk assessment at Grouse Mountain Resorts.

Ski injury claim may be litigated

To be clear, the Court of Appeal ruling did not establish that Grouse Mountain Resorts is at fault for Mr. Apps’ injuries; as Mr. Justice Grauer stated: “The effect of my conclusion is not that Grouse Mountain Resorts is liable to Mr. Apps.  That remains to be litigated.”  It means only that Mr. Apps was brought into question was the waiver and whether it supplies sufficient notice.

Contact us

Ski and snowboard enthusiasts will no doubt follow this litigation closely to determine what rights, if any, they may have if injured in a similar context. If you or someone you know has been injured in a ski hill related accident, reach out to Anastase Maragos, Partner in our Personal Injury Group, to learn about your options.

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