Ice Skating Personal Injury Results in Death: Wrongful Death?

A terrible accident occurred just days ago in Spokane, WA. A woman was ice-skating on the brand-new rink when she fell, hit her head and lost consciousness. She was transported to the local hospital within minutes, unresponsive. She died the next day.

(Source: Ice Skater Critically Injured After Falling At Spokane Outdoor Rink)

Ice Skating Injuries and wrongful death

Ice skating is a risky sport and all kinds of minor or major accidents and injuries can happen on an ice rink. For one thing, skating with dozens of other skaters on the ice at the same time is always creating a risk of collision with bodily harm. Falls are frequent, and there is nothing safe in the use of sharp metal blades to slide on the ice.

This terrible accident is rare however, and there may be ground for the family of the deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Do what extent could the ice rink operator and owner be found responsible for the loss of life?

Operators and owners of these facilities have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their patrons. If the ice rink is not up to code, their responsibility would be engaged.

In the case of the Spokane ice rink, the facility was brand-new, having opened its doors just a couple of months before the tragic accident. It is highly likely that the city inspectors had done their due diligence and authorized the rink owners to open its doors.

The current investigation will reveal if the facility had been damaged and something should have been fixed between the date of its grand opening and the accident.

As a lawyer at Davis Law Group, ( put it:

“Operators of ice rinks must always take the necessary steps to fix or prevent dangerous situations or conditions in their facilities. If the operator had prior knowledge of a hazard, and that hazard results in an accident, they may face a damaging lawsuit. Posting warnings or other signs to indicate danger rarely excuses the operator. An operator might also be responsible if the injuries were caused directly be an employee.”

This will be the job of the city inspectors, the police and the insurance companies to determine if any dangerous hazard had not been addressed and the owners and operators had prior knowledge of its existence.

Isn’t the skater supposed to be aware of the risk?

The simple answer is yes. Any participant in a  dangerous sporting activity is presumed to be aware of the risks involved. This prior knowledge can be ground for a court to rule in favor of the owner/operator of a facility.

This does not exonerate the owners and operators of the facility to post conspicuous signs warning skaters of the inherent dangers of ice skating, and asking them to enjoy usage of the facility with all appropriate precautions and etiquette.

In ski resorts for instance, skiers are made aware of the rule of the slopes when they rent skis or buy their lift pass. Signs are posted near the ski lift indicating the proper way to get on, sit on and get off of a lift. Skiers are encouraged not to drink on the slopes and not to ski when intoxicated. Instructors remind students constantly of safety rules and etiquette.

In short, whenever you step inside an ice rink, a ski resort, even an entertainment resort where sporting activities involving a degree of risk are involved, you assume the risk – and in case of a problem, the owners/operators of the facility will use this doctrine to reject the responsibility for any mishap on your head.

As long as they are not at fault for not having fixed safety hazards they were aware of within their facility, a court will tend to rule in their favor and not in yours.

Responsibility of other participants

If other participants in the sporting activities having resulted in a personal injury or wrongful death are determined to be at fault due to their behavior and actions, a good personal injury attorney will seek their responsibility to be established and go after them for financial compensation.

Typically, resort goers carry insurance to cover these risks. Unless they can be shown to have clearly misbehaved, their insurance will settle the amount of the compensation with the personal injury attorney of the plaintiff.

What to do if you are injured in these circumstances?

Call a personal injury lawyer and bring the elements of information that will help clarify the responsibilities of the parties involved. Medical care is very expensive in most sport trauma, you need to receive proper compensation and your attorney will take the appropriate steps in this respect if they agree to take on your case.

Hameroff Law, personal injury lawyers, has been fighting for victims of accidents and property and bodily injuries for over two decades. Call (520) 792-4700 for a free, no-obligation consultation.


Special thanks to:
Davis Law Group in Spokane WA for bringing this case to our attention
The Spokesman-Review for reporting originally about the case