October 26, 2014 • Premises Liability
Ice skating can be a rather dangerous sport where a person may be prone to many injuries. However, just because someone has suffered from an accident while ice skating, that doesn’t mean that it is grounds for a personal injury claim. There are a few circumstances where another person or the owner of an ice skating ring may be held legally responsible for an ice skating accident.
Liability for Ice Skating Rink Operators
It is the duty of an ice skating operator to keep the ice skating ring safe for patrons. This duty extends towards the general maintenance of the premises and equipment. An operator can be held liable for negligence if they fail to meet these obligations. But consider the dangerous nature of ice skating, an operator is not under a duty to prevent all possible accidents.
It is important that the operator take steps to fix or prevent dangerous situations or conditions that they should know or know about. It isn’t enough for them just to post warnings or notices. Apart from failing to identify and amend a risk, an operator might also be held responsible for any injuries caused directly by the negligence of an employee.
Liability of Other Skaters
If other skaters were responsible for injuring the plaintiff, they might also be held liable under a negligence or intentional tort theory. The defendant has to have intended to cause some kind of harm to the plaintiff for an intentional tort case to succeed.
Defenses to Ice Skating Personal Injury Lawsuits
A plaintiff might lose a personal injury case under the doctrine of “assumption of the risk,” if the defendant is able to prove that the plaintiff exposed themselves knowingly to the possibility of the injury before it occurred.
Anyone that skates is automatically assuming the risk that accompanies the attempt to glide across a frozen, hard surface on thin metal blades. There is a certain amount of falling, slipping, and bumping into other ice skaters that are bound to occur. But this assumption of the risk cannot be applied to every ice skating injury. Having said that, an ice skater does not usually assume that another skater will behave in an unreasonable manner or an operator will fail to take reasonable measures to prevent an injury. The defendant will win the case outright if the assumption of the risk doctrine applies.
Comparative or contributory negligence is a similar defense. This means that if a plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the injury, the amount of damages that the defendant owes is reduced or eliminated entirely. For instance, an operator may have negligently permitted a flaw to remain on the ice, but the plaintiff might have been trying to skate far beyond his abilities when the slip and fall occurred. If in a personal injury lawsuit, the operator is found to be 60% responsible and the plaintiff was found to be 40% responsible, the plaintiff will only be awarded 60% of the final damages.