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Snow tubing verdict a reminder to read the back of tickets

This past summer, a Berks County Court jury awarded a man a $2.1 million settlement for injuries he sustained in a snow tubing accident at the Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center in 2010. The man fractured his cervical spine, and suffered hernias and a spinal cord injury after he was unable to slow down on the icy slope, and flew into a net where he injured his neck and was hit by the next tuber coming down the slope. 

The settlement, which covered lost earnings and loss of consortium compensation for the man's wife, isn't typical for cases like this in Pennsylvania. Normally, people in the state who engage in activities like snow tubing, skiing or other recreational activities known to be dangerous are assumed to have understood and accepted the risks by virtue of their voluntary participation. Furthermore, ski resorts print liability waivers on the backs of lift tickets and elsewhere, and require guests to acknowledge their liability at the time of sale. 

In this case, however, the man didn't outright buy his tickets, but got them from a friend. Technically he should not have been allowed on the slope, as these tickets were non-transferable. Additionally, the slope was particularly icy the night of the accident, a reality for which the man was not prepared or warned. 

In a sense, the man was lucky that he got his tickets the way he did, if unlucky that the slopes were so icy that night. If he had bought the tickets himself, and had been thus made aware of the liability waiver, it would have been harder for a lawyer to argue that he did not fully understand the dangers of tubing. The case illustrates, however, that it's important to read and understand the implications of liability waivers before engaging in dangerous recreational activities. For example, if the man had read the liability waiver and still decided to go tubing, more of the responsibility for the accident would have landed on his shoulders, which could have resulted in a smaller settlement, or perhaps even no settlement at all. 

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a tubing, skiing or other accident related to recreational activities, it's crucial to contact a lawyer so you understand your rights and your options.

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