CSSB 44(L&C): "An Act relating to civil liability for skiing accidents, operation of ski areas, and duties of ski area operators and skiers; and providing for an effective date."
00CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 44(L&C) 01 "An Act relating to civil liability for skiing accidents, operation of ski areas, and 02 duties of ski area operators and skiers; and providing for an effective date." 03 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 04 * Section 1. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE. (a) The legislature finds that 05 (1) the sport of skiing is practiced by a large number of citizens of the state 06 and also attracts a large number of nonresidents, providing significant contributions to the 07 economy of the state through construction and operation of skiing facilities, and through the 08 money spent by citizens of the state and nonresidents; 09 (2) the sport of skiing serves important public social and policy goals in the 10 state given the dominance of the winter season; skiing contributes to the health and well-being 11 of Alaskans, including the physically and mentally challenged; it is highly desirable and 12 necessary that Alaskans have convenient and inexpensive access to the sport of skiing; 13 (3) skiing is an active sport conducted in the outdoor alpine environment; this 14 environment consists of several elements, including terrain, weather, snow conditions, and
01 amenities created and maintained by the ski area operator; 02 (4) the terrain necessary for downhill skiing is characterized by large amounts 03 of land, that vary tremendously in steepness and feature bumps, hillocks, drops, cliffs, gullies, 04 ridges, and knobs of infinite variety; the surface and subsurface include trees, bushes, 05 undergrowth, rocks, stumps, branches, roots, and other debris; 06 (5) weather that produces the snow necessary for skiing also produces factors 07 that complicate the sport; weather varies from sunny and warm to bitterly cold and windy, 08 with various forms of precipitation, including sleet, hail, varieties of snow, fog, mist, drizzle, 09 rain, and showers; weather complicates the snow surface by constantly altering the snow 10 consistency and snow level, covering, uncovering, and sculpting the terrain features described 11 above; 12 (6) snow is a generic term covering a wide variety of solid precipitation and 13 the frozen state of water as it exists and evolves on the ground; there are many different kinds 14 of snow precipitation; in addition, snow on the ground is constantly changing until it either 15 melts or sublimates; this metamorphism depends on many variable factors and produces snow 16 of substantially different texture and consistency, often in short periods of time; on any given 17 day, the snow conditions vary substantially from location to location and from time to time 18 during the day; 19 (7) in order to facilitate the sport, ski area operators construct facilities, 20 including ski runs, trails, roads, aerial tramways, snowmaking equipment, buildings, and signs; 21 while these facilities may alter the natural conditions, the facilities are obvious and necessary 22 to the sport; 23 (8) because of the size, power, and variation of the winter alpine environment, 24 ski area operators are financially and physically incapable of controlling all the conditions 25 under which skiing takes place; 26 (9) ski area operators have a limited ability to alter terrain features; some 27 terrain features may offer a hazard to the skier but at the same time offer additional challenge 28 or enjoyment for skiers; there will always be natural and artificial hazards in the sport of 29 skiing and the skier must accept these hazards as a part of the risk of skiing; 30 (10) ski area operators do not have control over natural weather conditions; 31 (11) under the proper weather conditions, ski area operators can and do make
01 a form of snow and can spread the snow on the surface of the terrain; however, it is not 02 possible nor is it desirable to groom all snow to a particular finish; 03 (12) skiing is an exhilarating sport, the enjoyment of which includes several 04 components: exercise, enjoyment of the outdoor environment, physical and mental challenge 05 of a sporting activity, companionship of family and friends, and the excitement of taking 06 physical risks; 07 (13) falling is an ordinary, obvious, and necessary component of the sport; all 08 skiers, even expert skiers, fall on all kinds of terrain; a particular fall is no indication of the 09 risks of a particular slope or set of conditions; the same factors that offer the excitement of 10 skiing contribute to its inherent risks; skiers may slide when they fall, and they may encounter 11 obstacles or other skiers; skiers can be injured while skiing due to the intrinsic risks of the 12 sport, whether natural or man-made. 13 (b) The purpose of this Act is to repeal and revise state law relating to skiing enacted 14 by ch. 80, SLA 1980, as interpreted by the Alaska Supreme Court in Hiibschman v. City of 15 Valdez, 821 P.2d 1354, (Alaska 1991). It is also the purpose of this Act to 16 (1) define the responsibilities of ski area operators and their agents and 17 employees; 18 (2) define the responsibilities of skiers using ski areas; 19 (3) define those areas of responsibility and affirmative acts for which ski area 20 operators may be liable for loss, damage, injury, or death, and to define those risks that the 21 skier expressly assumes as an inherent danger and risk of skiing; and 22 (4) provide that where an injury is the result only of an inherent risk of skiing, 23 a comparative negligence or comparative fault analysis does not apply. 24 * Sec. 2. AS 05 is amended by adding a new chapter to read: 25 CHAPTER 45. SKI LIABILITY, SAFETY, AND RESPONSIBILITY. 26 Sec. 05.45.010. LIMITATION ON ACTIONS ARISING FROM SKIING; 27 APPORTIONMENT OF FAULT. Notwithstanding any other provision of law 28 (1) a person may not bring an action against a ski area operator for an 29 injury resulting from an inherent danger and risk of skiing; 30 (2) if a person is injured as a result of an inherent danger and risk of 31 skiing and negligence by the ski area operator, in determining percentages of fault the
01 trier of fact may not treat the inherent danger and risk of skiing, to the extent it 02 contributed to the injury, as part of the fault attributed to the ski area operator. 03 Sec. 05.45.020. VIOLATIONS THAT CONSTITUTE NEGLIGENCE. (a) 04 A person who violates a requirement of this chapter is negligent and civilly liable to 05 the extent the violation causes injury to a person or damage to property. 06 (b) A ski area operator who violates a requirement of this chapter or a 07 regulation adopted by the Department of Labor under AS 05.20.070 is negligent and 08 civilly liable to the extent the violation causes injury to a person or damage to 09 property. 10 Sec. 05.45.030. DUTIES OF PASSENGERS. (a) A passenger may not board 11 a tramway if the passenger does not have 12 (1) sufficient physical dexterity or ability; and 13 (2) knowledge to negotiate or use the facility safely. 14 (b) A passenger may not 15 (1) embark upon or disembark from a tramway except at a designated 16 area unless reasonably necessary to prevent injury to the passenger or others; this 17 paragraph does not apply if the tramway stops and the operator assists the passengers 18 to disembark from the tramway; 19 (2) intentionally throw or expel an object from a tramway while riding 20 on the tramway, except as permitted by the operator; 21 (3) act while riding on a tramway in a manner that may interfere with 22 proper or safe operation of the tramway; 23 (4) engage in conduct that may contribute to or cause injury to a 24 person; 25 (5) intentionally place in an uphill track of a J-bar, T-bar, platter pull, 26 rope tow, or another surface lift an object that could cause another skier to fall; 27 (6) embark upon a tramway marked as closed; 28 (7) disobey instructions posted in accordance with this chapter or oral 29 instructions by the ski area operator regarding the proper or safe use of a tramway 30 unless the oral instructions are contrary to this chapter or contrary to posted 31 instructions.
01 Sec. 05.45.040. REQUIRED PLAN AND PATROL BY SKI AREA 02 OPERATORS. (a) A ski area operator shall prepare a plan of operation for each ski 03 season and shall implement the plan throughout the ski season. A plan of operation 04 must include provisions for ski patrol, avalanche control, avalanche rescue, grooming 05 procedures, tramway evacuation, hazard marking, and first aid. Before the operation 06 of the ski area for that season, the plan shall be reviewed and approved by the 07 (1) commissioner of public safety; or 08 (2) agency of the United States or the state that manages land on which 09 the ski area operates. 10 (b) A ski area operator shall provide a ski patrol with qualifications meeting 11 or exceeding the standards of the National Ski Patrol System, Inc. 12 Sec. 05.45.050. REQUIRED SIGNS FOR TRAMWAYS; DUTIES OF 13 OPERATORS. (a) A ski area operator who operates a tramway shall maintain a sign 14 system with concise, simple, and pertinent information for the protection and 15 instruction of passengers. Signs shall be prominently placed on each tramway, 16 readable in conditions of ordinary visibility, and where applicable adequately lighted 17 for nighttime passengers. Signs shall be posted 18 (1) at or near the loading point of each tramway, regardless of the type, 19 advising that a person not familiar with the operation of the device must ask the 20 operator of the device for assistance and instruction; 21 (2) in the interior of each two-car and multicar tramway showing 22 (A) the maximum capacity in pounds of the car and the 23 maximum number of passengers allowed; 24 (B) instructions for procedures in emergencies; 25 (3) in a conspicuous place at each loading area of two-car and multicar 26 tramways stating the maximum capacity in pounds of the car and the maximum 27 number of passengers allowed; 28 (4) at all chair lifts stating the following: 29 (A) "Prepare to Unload," which shall be located not less than 30 50 feet ahead of the unloading area; 31 (B) "Keep Ski Tips Up," which shall be located ahead of any
01 point where the skis may come in contact with a platform or the snow surface; 02 (C) "Unload Here," which shall be located at the point 03 designated for unloading; 04 (D) "Safety Gate," which shall be located where applicable; 05 (E) "Remove Pole Straps from Wrists," which shall be located 06 prominently at each loading area; 07 (F) "Check for Loose Clothing and Equipment," which shall be 08 located before the "Prepare to Unload" sign; 09 (5) at all J-bars, T-bars, platter pulls, rope tows, and any other surface 10 lift, stating the following: 11 (A) "Remove Pole Straps from Wrists," which shall be placed 12 at or near the loading area; 13 (B) "Stay in Tracks," "Unload Here," and "Safety Gate," which 14 shall be located where applicable; 15 (C) "Prepare to Unload," which shall be located not less than 16 50 feet ahead of each unloading area; 17 (6) near the boarding area of all J-bars, T-bars, platter pulls, rope tows, 18 and any other surface lift, advising passengers to check to be certain that clothing, 19 scarves, and hair will not become entangled with the lift; 20 (7) at or near the boarding area of all lifts, stating the skier's duty set 21 out in AS 05.45.100(c)(2). 22 (b) Signs not specified by (a) of this section may be posted at the discretion 23 of the ski area operator. 24 (c) A ski area operator, before opening the tramway to the public each day, 25 shall inspect the tramway for the presence and visibility of the signs required by (a) 26 of this section. 27 (d) A ski area operator shall post and maintain signs that are required by (a) 28 of this section in a manner that they may be viewed during conditions of ordinary 29 visibility. 30 Sec. 05.45.060. REQUIRED SIGNS FOR TRAILS AND SLOPES; DUTIES 31 OF OPERATORS. (a) A ski area operator shall maintain a sign and marking system
01 as required in this section in addition to that required by AS 05.45.050. All signs 02 required by this section shall be maintained so as to be readable and recognizable 03 under conditions of ordinary visibility. 04 (b) A ski area operator shall post a sign recognizable to skiers proceeding to 05 the uphill loading point of each base area lift that depicts and explains signs and 06 symbols that the skier may encounter at the ski area. The sign must include the 07 following: 08 (1) the least difficult trails and slopes, designated by a green circle and 09 the word "easiest"; 10 (2) the most difficult trails and slopes, designated by a black diamond 11 and the words "most difficult"; 12 (3) the trails and slopes that have a degree of difficulty that falls 13 between the green circle and the black diamond designation, designated by a blue 14 square and the words "more difficult"; 15 (4) danger areas designated by a red exclamation point inside a yellow 16 triangle with a red band around the triangle and the word "danger" printed beneath the 17 emblem; 18 (5) closed trails or slopes designated by a sign with a red circle or 19 octagon around a white interior containing a black figure in the shape of a skier with 20 a black band running diagonally across the sign from the upper right-hand side to the 21 lower left-hand side and with the word "Closed" printed beneath the emblem. 22 (c) If applicable, a sign shall be placed at or near the loading point of each 23 tramway as follows: 24 WARNING: This lift services (most difficult) 25 or (most difficult and more difficult) or 26 (more difficult) slopes only. 27 (d) If a particular trail or slope or portion of a trail or slope is closed to the 28 public by a ski area operator, the operator shall place a sign notifying the public of 29 that fact at each identified entrance of each portion of the trail or slope involved. This 30 subsection does not apply if the trail or slope is closed with ropes or fences. 31 (e) A ski area operator shall
01 (1) place a sign at or near the beginning of each trail or slope, which 02 must contain the appropriate symbol of the relative degree of difficulty of that 03 particular trail or slope as described in (b) of this section; this paragraph does not 04 apply to a slope or trail designated "easiest" that to a skier is substantially visible in 05 its entirety under conditions of ordinary visibility before beginning to ski the slope or 06 trail; 07 (2) mark the ski area boundaries in a fashion readily visible to skiers 08 under conditions of ordinary visibility; 09 (3) mark that portion of the boundary with signs as required by (b)(5) 10 of this section if the owner of land adjoining a ski area closes all or part of the land 11 and advises the ski area operator of the closure; 12 (4) mark hydrants, water pipes, and all other man-made structures on 13 slopes and trails that are not readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary 14 visibility from a distance of at least 100 feet and adequately and appropriately cover 15 man-made structures that create obstructions with a shock absorbent material that will 16 lessen injuries; any type of marker is sufficient, including wooden poles, flags, or 17 signs, if the marker is visible from a distance of 100 feet and if the marker itself does 18 not constitute a serious hazard to skiers; in this paragraph, "man-made structures" does 19 not include variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope 20 design, snow making, grooming operations, roads and catwalks, or other terrain 21 modifications; 22 (5) mark exposed forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, trees, or 23 other natural objects that are located on groomed slopes or trails and that are not 24 readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility from a distance of at 25 least 100 feet; 26 (6) mark roads, catwalks, or other terrain modifications that are not 27 readily visible to skiers under conditions of ordinary visibility from a distance of at 28 least 100 feet; 29 (7) post and maintain signs that contain the warning notice specified 30 in (g) of this section; the notice shall be placed in a clearly visible location at the ski 31 area where lift tickets and ski school lessons are sold and in a position to be
01 recognizable as a sign to skiers proceeding to the uphill loading point of each base 02 area lift; the signs may not be smaller than three feet by three feet and must be white 03 with black and red letters as specified in this paragraph; the word "WARNING" must 04 appear on the sign in red letters; the warning notice specified in this paragraph must 05 appear on the sign in black letters with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in 06 height. 07 (f) A ski lift ticket sold or made available for sale to skiers by a ski area 08 operator must contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in (g) of 09 this section. 10 (g) The signs described in (e)(5) of this section and the lift tickets described 11 in (f) of this section must contain the following warning notice: 12 WARNING 13 Under Alaska law, the risk of an injury to person or property 14 resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing 15 rests with the skier. A skier may not recover from a ski area 16 operator for an injury resulting from any of the inherent dangers 17 and risks of skiing, including changing weather conditions, 18 existing and changing snow conditions, bare spots, rocks, 19 stumps, trees, collisions with natural objects, man made objects, 20 or other skiers, variations in terrain, and the failure of skiers to 21 ski within their own abilities. 22 Sec. 05.45.070. OTHER DUTIES OF SKI AREA OPERATORS. (a) A ski 23 area operator shall equip a motorized snow-grooming vehicle with a light visible at any 24 time the vehicle is moving on or in the vicinity of a ski slope or trail. 25 (b) When maintenance equipment is being employed to maintain or groom a 26 ski slope or trail while the ski slope or trail is open to the public, the ski area operator 27 shall place a conspicuous notice regarding the maintenance or grooming at or near the 28 top of that ski slope or trail. 29 (c) A snowmobile operated on the ski slope or trails of a ski area shall be 30 equipped with at least 31 (1) one lighted head lamp;
01 (2) one lighted red tail lamp; 02 (3) a brake system maintained in operable condition; and 03 (4) a fluorescent flag at least 40 square inches mounted at least six feet 04 above the bottom of the tracks. 05 Sec. 05.45.080. SKIERS OUTSIDE MARKED BOUNDARIES. A ski area 06 operator does not have a duty arising out of the operator's status as a ski area operator 07 to a skier skiing beyond the area boundaries if the boundaries are marked as required 08 by AS 05.45.060(e)(2). 09 Sec. 05.45.090. REVOCATION OF SKIING PRIVILEGES. A ski area 10 operator, upon finding a person skiing in a careless and reckless manner, may revoke 11 that person's skiing privileges. This section may not be construed to create an 12 affirmative duty on the part of the ski area operator to protect skiers from their own 13 or from another skier's carelessness or recklessness. 14 Sec. 05.45.100. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF SKIERS. (a) A 15 skier is responsible for knowing the range of the skier's own ability to negotiate a ski 16 slope or trail and to ski within the limits of the skier's ability. A skier is responsible 17 for an injury to a person or property resulting from an inherent danger and risk of 18 skiing, except that a skier is not precluded under this chapter from suing another skier 19 for an injury to person or property resulting from the other skier's acts or omissions. 20 Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the risk of a skier's collision with another 21 skier is not an inherent danger or risk of skiing in an action by one skier against 22 another. 23 (b) A skier has the duty to maintain control of the skier's speed and course at 24 all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other 25 skiers and objects. However, a person skiing downhill has the primary duty to avoid 26 collision with a person or object below the skier. 27 (c) A skier may not 28 (1) ski on a ski slope or trail that has been posted as "Closed" under 29 AS 05.45.060(b)(5) and (d); 30 (2) use a ski unless the ski is equipped with a strap or other device 31 capable of stopping the ski should the ski become unattached from the skier;
01 (3) cross the uphill track of a J-bar, T-bar, platter pull, or rope tow 02 except at locations designated by the operator, or place an object in an uphill track; 03 (4) move uphill on a tramway or use a ski slope or trail while the 04 skier's ability is impaired by the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance as 05 defined in AS 11.71.900 or other drug; 06 (5) knowingly enter upon public or private land from an adjoining ski 07 area when the land has been closed by an owner and is posted by the owner or by the 08 ski area operator under AS 05.45.060(e)(3). 09 (d) A skier shall stay clear of snow grooming equipment, vehicles, lift towers, 10 signs, and other equipment on the ski slopes and trails. 11 (e) A skier has the duty to heed all posted information and other warnings and 12 to refrain from acting in a manner that may cause or contribute to the injury of the 13 skier or others. Evidence that the signs required by AS 05.45.050 and 05.45.060 were 14 present, visible, and readable at the beginning of a given day creates a presumption 15 that all skiers using the ski area on that day have seen and understood the signs. 16 (f) Before beginning to ski from a stationary position or before entering a ski 17 slope or trail from the side, a skier has the duty to avoid moving skiers already on the 18 ski slope or trail. 19 (g) A skier involved in a collision with another skier or person that results in 20 an injury may not leave the vicinity of the collision before giving the skier's name and 21 current address to an employee of the ski area operator or a member of the voluntary 22 ski patrol, except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision. 23 A person who leaves the scene of a collision to obtain aid shall give the person's name 24 and current address as required by this subsection after obtaining aid. 25 (h) A person who violates a provision of (c) or (g) of this section is guilty of 26 a violation as defined in AS 11.81.900. The commissioner of natural resources or an 27 employee of the Department of Natural Resources authorized by the commissioner may 28 issue a citation in accordance with the provisions of AS 41.21.960 to a person who 29 violates (c) or (g) of this section on state land. 30 Sec. 05.45.200. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter, 31 (1) "base area lift" means a tramway that skiers ordinarily use without
01 first using some other tramway; 02 (2) "conditions of ordinary visibility" means daylight or nighttime in 03 nonprecipitating weather; 04 (3) "inherent danger and risk of skiing" means a danger or condition 05 that is an integral part of the sport of skiing, including changing weather conditions; 06 snow conditions as they exist or may change, including ice, hard pack, powder, packed 07 powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, and machine-made snow; surface 08 or subsurface conditions including bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, 09 and trees, or other natural objects, and collisions with natural objects; impact with lift 10 towers, signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, water pipes, other man-made 11 structures, and their components; variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or 12 as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, including roads and 13 catwalks or other terrain modifications; collision with other skiers; and the failure of 14 skiers to ski within their own abilities; the term "inherent danger and risk of skiing" 15 does not include the negligence of a ski area operator under AS 05.45.020(b), or acts 16 or omissions of a ski area operator involving the use or operation of ski lifts; 17 (4) "injury" means property damage, personal injury, or death; 18 (5) "passenger" means a person who is lawfully using a tramway; 19 (6) "ski area" means all downhill ski slopes or trails and other places 20 under the control of a downhill ski area operator; "ski area" does not include a cross-country ski trail; 21 (7) "ski area operator" means a person having operational responsibility 22 for a downhill ski area, and includes an agency of the state or a political subdivision 23 of the state; 24 (8) "skier" means an individual using a downhill ski area for the 25 purpose of 26 (A) skiing; 27 (B) sliding downhill on snow or ice on skis, a toboggan, a sled, 28 a tube, a ski-bob, a snowboard, or another skiing device; or 29 (C) using any of the facilities of a ski area, including ski slopes 30 and trails; 31 (9) "ski slopes or trails" means those areas designated by a ski area
01 operator to be used by a skier; 02 (10) "tramway" means a device that is a passenger tramway, aerial or 03 surface lift, ski lift, or rope tow regulated under AS 05.20. 04 Sec. 05.45.210. SHORT TITLE. This chapter may be cited as the Alaska Ski 05 Safety Act of 1993. 06 * Sec. 3. AS 09.65.135 and AS 18.60.822 are repealed. 07 * Sec. 4. This Act takes effect immediately under AS 01.10.070(c).