HB 619-FN – FINAL VERSION
HOUSE BILL 619-FN
SPONSORS: Rep. Dickinson, Carr 1; Rep. Chandler, Carr 1; Rep. Price, Hills 26; Rep. Whalley, Belk 5; Rep. Hunt, Ches 7; Sen. Kenney, Dist 3; Sen. Johnson, Dist 2; Sen. Odell, Dist 8; Sen. Morse, Dist 22
I. Adds “snowboarding,” “snow tubing,” and “snowshoeing” to “skiing” in the declaration of policy.
II. Adds definitions to the definitions section and alphabetizes the section.
III. Makes certain changes to the color code signs for marking the ski trail level of difficulty and their placement.
IV. Adds “snowboarding,” “snow tubing,” and “snowshoeing” to skiing as inherently dangerous activities and changes the list of hazards for which skiers and others assume the risks.
V. Prohibits skiers from accessing certain parts of a ski area without written permission.
VI. Establishes a committee to study additional winter sports that may need to be included in the ski area exemption from liability and skier safety.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five
AN ACT relative to skier safety and ski area responsibility.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
145:1 Declaration of Policy; Other Winter Sports Added. Amend RSA 225-A:1 to read as follows:
225-A:1 Declaration of Policy. The state of New Hampshire finds that the [
sport] sports of skiing, [ is] snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing are practiced by a large number of citizens of the state of New Hampshire, and also that skiing, [ attracts] snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing attract to the state of New Hampshire large numbers of nonresidents significantly contributing to the economy of New Hampshire. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the state of New Hampshire to protect its citizens and visitors from unnecessary mechanical hazards in the operation of ski tows, lifts, nordic ski jumps and passenger tramways, to ensure that proper design and construction are used, that board accepted safety devices and sufficient personnel are provided for, and that periodic inspections and adjustments are made which are deemed essential to the safe operation of ski tows, ski lifts, nordic ski jumps and passenger tramways. The primary responsibility for operation, construction, maintenance and inspection rests with the operators of such passenger tramway devices. The state, through its passenger tramway safety board, as hereinafter provided, shall register all ski lift devices and nordic ski jumps, establish reasonable standards of design and operational practices, and make such independent inspections as may be necessary in carrying out this policy. Further, it shall be the policy of the state of New Hampshire to define the primary areas of responsibility of skiers and other users of alpine (downhill) and nordic (cross country and nordic ski jumps) areas, recognizing that the sport of skiing and other ski area activities involve risks and hazards which must be assumed as a matter of law by those engaging in such activities, regardless of all safety measures taken by the ski area operators.
145:2 Definition of Terms. RSA 225-A:2 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
225-A:2 Definitions. In this chapter:
I. “Board” means the passenger tramway safety board.
II. “Department” means the department of safety, division of safety services.
III. “Industry” means the activities of all those persons in the state who own or control the operation of ski areas.
IV. “Nordic ski jump” means a facility constructed for the purpose of nordic ski jumping and built in accordance with appropriate standards and guidelines, and any facilities that are associated with the use or viewing of such a facility.
V. “Passenger” means any person, including skiers, while being transported or conveyed by a passenger tramway, or while waiting in the immediate vicinity for such transportation or conveyance, or while moving away from the disembarkation or unloading point of a passenger tramway to clear the way for the following passengers, or while in the act of boarding or embarking upon or disembarking from a passenger tramway.
VI. “Passenger tramway” means a device used to transport passengers uphill on skis or other winter sports devices, or in cars on tracks or suspended in the air, by the use of steel cables, chains or belts or by ropes, and usually supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans. The term passenger tramway shall include the following:
(a) Two-car aerial passenger tramway, a device used to transport passengers in 2 open or enclosed cars attached to, and suspended from, a moving wire rope, or attached to a moving wire rope and supported on a standing wire rope, or similar devices.
(b) Multi-car aerial passenger tramway, a device used to transport passengers in open or enclosed cars attached to, and suspended from, a moving wire rope, or attached to a moving wire rope and supported on a standing wire rope, or similar devices.
(c) “Conveyor” means a class of outdoor transportation wherein skiers or passengers are transported uphill on a flexible moving element such as a conveyor belt.
(d) Chair lift, a type of transportation on which passengers are carried on chairs suspended in the air and attached to a moving cable, chain or link belt supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans, or similar devices.
(e) J bar, T bar or platter pull, so-called, and similar types of devices are means of transportation which pull skiers riding on skis by means of an attachment to a main overhead cable supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans.
(f) Rope tow, a type of transportation which pulls the skier riding on skis as the skier grasps the rope manually, or similar devices.
(g) Wire rope tow means a type of transportation by which skiers are pulled on skis while manually gripping a handle attached to a wire hauling cable. The hauling cable is maintained at a constant height range between the loading and unloading points, and there is only one span with no intermediate towers.
VII. “Ski area operator” means a person who owns or controls the operation of a ski area. The word “operator” shall include the state or any political subdivision. An operator of a passenger tramway shall be deemed not to be operating a common carrier. Ski area operator is included in the term “operator” as used in this chapter.
VIII. “Ski areas” means all passenger tramways and all designated alpine and nordic trails, slopes, freestyle terrain, tubing terrain, and nordic ski jumps under the control of the alpine and nordic ski area operator and any other areas under the operator’s control open to the public for winter sports recreation or competition.
IX. “Skier” means a person utilizing the ski area under the control of a ski area operator for ski, snowboard, and snow tube recreation and competition.
X. “Tubing terrain” means areas designated for sliding on inflatable tubes or other similar devices down a prepared course or lanes at a ski area.
XI. “Winter sports” means the use of skis, snowboards, snow tubes, snowshoes, and any device being utilized by a disabled or adaptive participant for winter recreation or competition.
145:3 Responsibilities of the Ski Area Operator. RSA 225-A:23 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
225-A:23 Responsibilities of the Ski Area Operator. It shall be the responsibility of the operator to maintain the following signs and designations:
I. General Designations. The following color code is hereby established:
(a) Green circle: On area’s easiest trails and slopes.
(b) Black diamond: On area’s most difficult trails and slopes.
(c) Blue square: On area’s trails and slopes that fall between the green circle and black diamond designation.
(d) Yellow triangle with red exclamation point inside with a red band around the triangle: Extrahazardous.
(e) Border around a black figure in the shape of a skier inside with a band running diagonally across the sign with the word “closed” beneath the emblem: Trail or slope closed.
(f) Orange oval: On area’s designated freestyle terrain without respect to its degree of difficulty.
II. Base Area; Information to Skiers and Passengers.
(a) A trail board shall be maintained at a prominent location listing the ski area’s network of ski trails, slopes, tubing terrain, and designated freestyle terrain in accordance with the aforementioned color code and containing a key to the code in accordance with the above designations; said trail board shall further designate which trails, slopes, and snow tube terrain are open or closed.
(b) The ski area operator shall warn skiers and passengers by use of the trail board, if applicable, that snow grooming or snow making operations are routinely in progress on the slopes and trails serviced by each tramway.
(c) A map shall be available at all ski areas to all skiers and passengers indicating the system of ski trails, slopes, tubing terrain, and designated freestyle terrain in accordance with the color code in paragraph I.
III. Ski Trails and Slopes; Information and Warning to Skiers and Other Persons.
(a) The operator shall mark the beginning of each alpine and nordic ski trail or slope with the appropriate symbol for that particular trail’s or slope’s degree of difficulty in accordance with RSA 225-A:23, I.
(b) The beginning of each alpine ski trail or slope is defined as the highest point of the trail or slope. Lower trail junctions and intersections may be marked with a degree of difficulty symbol.
(c) The operator shall mark the beginning of, and designated access points to, each alpine trail or slope that is closed with a sign in accordance with RSA 225-A:23, I(e). For purposes of this subparagraph, “designated access points” means the beginning of a trail, slope, or any point where an open trail crosses or intersects the closed trail as shown on the ski area’s trail board and trail map.
(d) The operator shall mark the beginning of and designated access points to terrain with the appropriate symbol in accordance with RSA 225-A:23, I(f), which sign shall warn the skier that the use of the terrain is at the skier’s own risk. Further, a sign shall be placed at each lift depicting the symbols in RSA 225-A:23, I(a)-(f) describing the trail or slope that the skier may encounter by utilizing such lift.
IV. Nordic Ski Jumps. The operator shall provide a sign in a prominent location at or near the nordic ski jump facility, which sign shall warn the ski jumper that the use of the nordic ski jump is entirely at the ski jumper’s own risk. Further, the ski area operator shall be responsible for the design, construction, and structural maintenance of all nordic ski jumps.
145:4 Responsibilities of Skiers and Passengers. Amend the introductory paragraph of RSA 225-A:24 and RSA 225-A:24, I-III to read as follows:
225-A:24 Responsibilities of Skiers and Passengers. It is hereby recognized that, regardless of all safety measures which may be taken by the ski area operator, skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing as [
a sport] sports, and the use of passenger tramways associated therewith may be hazardous to the skiers or passengers. Therefore:
I. Each person who participates in the sport of skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing accepts as a matter of law, the dangers inherent in the sport, and to that extent may not maintain an action against the operator for any injuries which result from such inherent risks, dangers, or hazards. The categories of such risks, hazards, or dangers which the skier or passenger assumes as a matter of law include but are not limited to the following: variations in terrain, surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions; bare spots; rocks, trees, stumps and other forms of forest growth or debris; terrain, lift towers, and components thereof (all of the foregoing whether above or below snow surface); pole lines and plainly marked or visible snow making equipment; collisions with other skiers or other persons or with any of the categories included in this paragraph.
II. Each skier and passenger shall have the sole responsibility for knowing the range of his or her own ability to negotiate any slope, trail, terrain, or passenger tramway. Any passenger who boards such tramway shall be presumed to have sufficient knowledge, abilities, and physical dexterity to negotiate the lift, and no liability shall attach to any operator or attendant for failure to instruct persons on the use thereof.
III. Each skier or passenger shall conduct himself or herself, within the limits of his or her own ability, maintain control of his or her speed and course at all times both on the ground and in the air, while skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing heed all posted warnings, and refrain from acting in a manner which may cause or contribute to the injury of himself, herself, or others.
145:5 New Subparagraph; Prohibitions; Access Closed Terrain. Amend RSA 225-A:24, V by inserting after subparagraph (f) the following new subparagraph:
(g) Ski or otherwise access terrain outside open and designated ski trails and slopes or beyond ski area boundaries without written permission of said operator or designee.
145:6 Insurance; Limitations. Amend RSA 225-A:25, I to read as follows:
I. Unless an operator of a passenger tramway is in violation of this chapter or the rules of the board, which violation is causal of the injury complained of, no action shall lie against any operator by any passenger or his or her representative; this prohibition shall not, however, prevent the maintenance of an action against an operator for negligent operation, construction, or maintenance of the passenger tramway itself.
145:7 Insurance; Limitations; Ski Area Operators Added. Amend RSA 225-A:25, IV to read as follows:
IV. No action shall be maintained against any operator for injuries to any skier or passenger unless the same is commenced within 2 years from the time of injury provided, however, that as a condition precedent thereof the operator shall be notified by certified return receipt mail within 90 days of said injury. The venue of any action against an operator shall be in the county [
in which the passenger tramway base station] where the ski area is located and not otherwise.
145:8 New Paragraphs; Ski Areas; Limitations. Amend RSA 225-A:25 by inserting after paragraph IV the following new paragraphs:
V. No ski area operator shall be held responsible for ensuring the safety of, or for damages including injury or death resulting to, skiers or other persons who utilize the facilities of a ski area to access terrain outside open and designated ski trails. Ski areas shall not be liable for damages, including injury or death, to persons who venture beyond such open and designated ski trails.
VI. A ski area operator owes no duty to anyone who trespasses on the ski area property.
145:9 Ski Area Vehicles; Reference Changed. Amend RSA 259:101 to read as follows:
259:101 Ski Area Vehicles. “Ski area vehicles” shall mean motor vehicles, except private passenger vehicles, whether wheeled or tracked, on-highway or off-highway, owned or leased by a ski area as defined in RSA 225-A:2, [
V] VIII, and used exclusively in winter or summer maintenance of ski trails, parking lots, private access roads, structures and other ski area facilities. These vehicles shall include snow cats, snow dozers, snow grooming equipment and tractors, except that it shall not include vehicles with metal tracks or cleats operated outside the bounds of any road maintained exclusively by the ski area.
145:10 Committee Established.
I. There is established a committee to study additional winter sports that may need to be included in the ski area exemption from liability and skier safety.
II. Membership and Compensation.
(a) The members of the committee shall be as follows:
(1) Three members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives. One member shall be from the resources, recreation and development committee, and one member shall be from the judiciary committee.
(2) Two members of the senate, appointed by the president of the senate.
(b) Members of the committee shall receive mileage at the legislative rate when attending to the duties of the committee.
III. Duties. The committee shall study:
(a) The need to include additional winter sports in the ski area liability exemption and which sports need to be included.
(b) Revising the statutes relating to skier safety and ski area responsibility to reflect changes in the sport of skiing and activities at ski areas.
IV. Chairperson. The members of the study committee shall elect a chairperson from among the members. The first meeting of the committee shall be called by the first-named house member. The first meeting of the committee shall be held within 45 days of the effective date of this section.
V. Report. The committee shall report its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the house clerk, the senate clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 2005.
145:11 Effective Date.
I. Section 10 of this act shall take effect upon its passage.
II. The remainder of this act shall take effect July 1, 2005.
(Approved: June 17, 2005)
(Effective Date: I. Section 10 shall take effect June 17, 2005.
II. Remainder shall take effect July 1, 2005)