Editor's note: This is a portion of a series by the Denver Post investigating ski area liability. The Vail Daily will run the series throughout the week. To read this story in its entirety, go to www.denverpost.com.
Colorado ski operators, protected by state law and further insulated by season-pass waivers, have escaped liability for such incidents as an in-bounds avalanche, a ski instructor running into a 9-year-old, and a decaying bridge injuring a skier.
In the 34 years since Colorado's Ski and Safety Act was passed to protect mom-and-pop ski areas from lawsuits and soaring insurance costs, multibillion-dollar real-estate-development companies have come to own many of the state's 25 resorts.
Yet not only do they continue to enjoy protections under the ski act, season-pass waivers release them from additional negligence claims and require the person who sues them to reimburse their attorney fees and costs, a Denver Post review of 30 years of lawsuits found. In the few lawsuits that do move forward, skiers and snowboarders are limited to a $250,000 cap for noneconomic damages.