Ice Skating, Ice Hockey, and the Law

In these first few weeks of February the Philadelphia tri-state area has experienced a “deep freeze” so to speak. Temperatures bottoming out in the low single digits and wind chills in the negatives. With that in mind, various lakes and ponds in the area have frozen over, giving children and adults alike ample opportunities to throw on the skates and get some old fashioned pond ice hockey going on. As a skater you should be very careful when skating on these outdoor blocks of ice as you assume the risk of injury that could arise. Assumption of the risk is the main defense to relieve a defendant of liability.

Tort law and injury liability doesn’t stop at the outdoor ice skating venues. Indoor ice rinks have policies in force to protect themselves from liability when an injury occurs. But can an ice skating injury at a rink be the rink’s fault? Operators of ice skating rinks have a duty to keep the ice skating rink safe for patrons, including the general maintenance of the equipment and premises. Failure to meet these obligations can make the operator liable for negligence.

Under the doctrine of “assumption of the risk,” a plaintiff will lose the case if the defendant can prove the plaintiff knowingly exposed himself to the possibility of the injury before it occurred. Anyone who ice skates assumes the risk of a certain amount of slipping, falling, bumping into other ice skaters and the various other likely results of attempting to glide across a hard, frozen surface on thin metal blades. However, assumption of the risk cannot be applied to every ice skating injury. A reasonable ice skater does not assume that an operator will fail to take reasonable measures to prevent an injury or that another skater will behave in an unreasonable manner.

If you or someone you know has gotten injured due to negligence, call The Law Offices of Proctor & Lindsay. We are here to answer any questions you may have. 610-361-8600.