Swiss sledders, skiers seldom sue

“The tree trunks, exposed banks and other hazards whizzing past represent a cornucopia of potential tort suits under U.S. law, yet somehow the Swiss manage to operate these runs without being sued into oblivion.” Dan Fisher at Forbes has a go at explaining why. More: Bill Childs, TortsProf (many U.S. states relatively protective of winter sports providers).


  • In Austria it is even better because you can do it in the dark, after drinking gluwein or schnaps, on a Rodel Abend!

  • and that sums up why in the US there are so many frivolous lawsuits:
    1) juries, the members of which are more interested in making notes (and ensuring success) for their own get-rich-quick scheme lawsuits than serving justice
    2) lawyers who pre-finance lawsuits rather than demanding pay as you go service, and offer no cure no pay (illegal in many countries)
    3) no limits to the payouts (in most countries such lawsuits as bring in tens or hundreds of millions would bring only a few tens of thousands, barely enough to cover the legal cost)

  • Working on contingency isn’t an absolute evil – there are legitimate claims where a plaintiff’s prospect of paying many thousands of dollars up front can be scary, and just giving the lawyers a cut of the final outcome is a lot easier than hourly billing. Plus, it removes the opposition’s incentive to bury you in motions and outspend you into submission. It’s not perfect and might allow certain abuses, but it’s better than some alternatives and any system will have some ways of being abused one way or another.

  • I’m not a skier, so this is all unfamiliar to me. Do US runs not have tree trunks and exposed banks? Have there been US ski areas that have been hit hard by lawsuits?