Wyoming’s Recreation Safety Act Does Not Prohibit Recovery In All Cases

Wyoming’s natural beauty fuels the state’s economy. With its pristine waters, beautiful vistas, peaceful meadows, and snow-capped mountains, Wyoming’s natural resources call many to play in the outdoors. Nearly 50% of the entire state is public land dedicated to hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, and boating. Additionally, Wyoming’s ski resorts contribute significantly to the state’s economy.  The state’s legislature, therefore, has a vested interest in ensuring that the businesses intrinsically involved in driving Wyoming’s economy are protected. The Wyoming Recreation Safety Act (“WRSA”) achieves that goal by presuming that participants in recreational activities “assume the risks inherent” in the activity, thereby preventing recovery for personal injuries suffered by participants in recreational activities. However, not every claim for personal injuries is foreclosed by the statute. Wyoming personal injury attorney George L. Arnold possesses the knowledge, skill, and experience to fight for you to prove that you are entitled to damages despite the far reaches of Wyoming’s Recreation Safety Act.
The WRSA generally prohibits recovery for personal injuries suffered during sporting or other recreational activities. The statute, by its own terms, includes traditional sporting activities like baseball and football but also includes skiing, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities. The WRSA mandates that participants who suffer injuries inherently present by performing the activity assume the risk of injury, even death, and are legally responsible for such injuries or death. That means the provider of the activity is not responsible for injuries suffered by the participant if the injury was inherent in the activity. Inherent in this context means activities “intrinsic to” or “characteristic of” the activity in question. For instance, a ski resort was not responsible for injuries suffered by a skier who was injured while boarding a ski lift even though the skier removed the skis and properly stowed the skis where directed. The Wyoming Supreme Court held that suffering an injury while boarding a ski lift was an inherent component of skiing and therefore there was no negligence on behalf of the ski resort. The decision did not foreclose an action based upon a negligent design of the ski lift, only the negligent operation thereof.
The WRSA permits an action based upon the negligence of the recreational provider under a limited circumstance. The statute allows for an injured party to pursue a cause of action for negligence against a provider if the injury is suffered because of a risk beyond those commonly associated with the activity. Even though the statute specifically relieves a provider from mitigating inherent risks, the statute does require the provider to mitigate risks not inherent in the activity. By way of example, a woman was injured horseback riding when her saddle turned over and she struck the ground, breaking three bones in her back. Before she began riding, she told the wrangler that one stirrup was much lower than the other. One employee of the provider acknowledged the stirrup problem and essentially ignored it. She fell in the direction of the longer stirrup. Although the trial court ruled that the injuries the plaintiff suffered were caused by a risk inherent in the activity and dismissed the case, the appeals court overturned part of that ruling. The appeals court held that while the risk that the cinch of a saddle may be too tight or too lose and therefore could slip is inherent in horseback riding, stirrup length discrepancy is not. Therefore, the appeals court remanded the case for a jury to determine whether the provider was negligent for failing to address the stirrup problem.
Zealous Personal Injury Advocate Ready To Fight For Your Rights
Wyoming personal injury attorney George L. Arnold is a zealous advocate for people injured through no fault of their own. Attorney Arnold is the personal injury lawyer who possesses the experience to win the compensation you deserve. Call Attorney Arnold at 307-789-7887 to schedule an appointment today to learn the difference experience and tenacity can make for you.

1. Wyoming Recreation Safety Act, Wyoming Statutes Annotated §1-1-121 et seq.
2. Muller v. Jackson Hole Resort, 139 P. 3d 1162 (2006)
3. Kovnat v. Xanterra Parks and Resorts, 770 F. 3d 949 (10th Cir.)
4. http://www.ourpubliclands.org/public-lands-report-wy