The recent civil trial of Oscar-winning actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow over a 2016 ski collision with another skier has put the spotlight on a critical question – who is legally liable when skiers collide on the slopes? With both Paltrow and the plaintiff Terry Sanderson painting themselves as careful skiers, the trial has focused on who is responsible for the crash. Paltrow denied any fault on her part, claiming that Sanderson skied into her back while defending her skiing. Sanderson, on the other hand, sued Paltrow, alleging that she was recklessly skiing and caused the accident. Due to the dueling accounts of the crash, experts predict that the case will hinge on the skiers’ location on the mountain when the crash occurred.
According to the National Ski Areas Association’s responsibility code, “people ahead or downhill of you have the right of way. You must avoid them.” While most ski accidents involve a skier hitting a tree or an obstacle, collisions between skiers are not uncommon. When injuries result, legal implications including negligence come to the forefront. When one skier hits another, it’s a matter of negligence—did either party do something wrong? Lawyers sometimes get involved when injuries result; however, for a meaningful judgment, the jury needs to determine which of the two skiers involved acted inappropriately or unreasonably.
It’s not always easy to establish negligence in a two-person collision. The case in which Paltrow is involved highlights this. The jury will decide who they believe was the uphill and downhill skiier. The defendant’s wealth or whether they have homeowner’s property insurance also comes into play when determining compensation or settlement for any damages. If the defendant has insurance coverage, it is the insurance company that pays any judgment or compensation required under the policy.
In conclusion, the case involving Gwyneth Paltrow’s collision with another skier is a classic example of why there are often conflicting accounts after ski accidents. With the jury deciding the fate of the collision, every skier on the slopes should be aware of their duty to other skiier’s around them. People who ski uphill have a responsibility to watch out for those downhill. In other words, the uphill skier must beware of the downhill skier. If you’re overtaking someone and hit them, chances are you are liable and at fault. Skiing is a sport, an adventurous pass-time, that can also include a certain amount of risk. Every skier must know the rules, and individual responsibility while enjoying and doing what they love.