“I suffered injuries in a ski chairlift accident because the resort was negligent.” Which case won?
Ski resort operated triple chairlift
A ski resort in NSW operated a triple chairlift to take skiers from the lower part of the mountain to a higher part.
The chairlift consisted of a series of chairs that could each accommodate three skiers side by side.
Each chair had an arm rest at each end and a safety bar running from one side of the chair to the other that could be raised and lowered.
Each chair was suspended from an overhead cable, which was constantly moving, and ran around large wheels called “bullwheels” at the bottom and top stations of the chairlift.
Skiers board triple chairlift at load line with safety bar raised
Skiers would board the chairlift by standing at the loading point on a line marked on the snow, called the load line.
The space between chairs rounding the bullwheel and approaching the loading point was configured so that immediately after one loaded chair departed, up to three skiers could position themselves on the load line to sit on the next chair.
When on the load line, the skiers had to look behind for the approaching empty chair and, when it arrived with the safety bar up, sit down on the chair.
When the safety bar is down, skiers are unable to board the chair because the bar is in the way.
Experienced skier injured attempting to board triple chairlift
An experienced skier and two companions had positioned themselves on the load line to board the triple chairlift.
A lift attendant employed by the ski resort was on duty in the vicinity of the loading point.
As the skier and her companions waited on the load line to board the chairlift, they noticed that the chair coming around the bullwheel had its safety bar down.
They called out to attract the lift attendant’s attention, and at the last minute he raised the safety bar on the chair.
The skier and her companions then mounted the chair. However, as they did so, the right arm rest of the chair struck the skier from behind in the groin and she was seriously injured.
She found herself straddled on the arm rest, but was eventually pulled onto the seat by a companion, to save her from falling.
Skier sues ski resort for negligence
The skier sued the ski resort for negligence, alleging that she had suffered injury to her left vulva, back, right hip and right thigh, abrasion to the left portion of her left labium majus, bruising, anxiety, humiliation and shock.
The Supreme Court of NSW upheld her claim and awarded damages of $1,368,700.
The ski resort appealed to Supreme Court of NSW Court of Appeal.