Many New York winter resorts use ageing ski lifts

Many New York residents are passionate about winter sports, and the Northeastern United States is home to some of the nation's best ski resorts. Getting to the top of the steepest slopes usually involves long ski lift rides, and some safety advocates are concerned about the age of the equipment used in many of the country's leading winter resorts.

While ski lift accidents may be rare, they are often serious. Since 1973, 12 people have been killed in the United States in ski lift accidents, but eight of those lives were lost in only two incidents. Four people died in one of these accidents in Colorado in 1976, and four lives were also lost in a 1978 California accident. Installing a modern ski lift can cost resorts $3 million or more, and many choose instead to keep older lifts that are nearing or have exceeded their intended lifespans.

Ski lifts are generally inspected at least once a year, but there are no national standards or protocols in place. Instead, each state follows its own regulations and inspection timetable. There is also no national organization keeping track of how long ski lifts across the country have been in service. Most of the ski lifts installed in the 1970s and 1980s were designed to last for between 20 and 30 years. A study by the Maine State Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety found that the average ski lift in the Pine Tree State was 22 years old.

Ski resorts are expected to take all reasonable steps to protect their visitors from foreseeable dangers. While many winter sports are inherently dangerous, resorts should make every effort to keep risks to a minimum. When this duty of care is not met, personal injury attorneys with experience in premises liability lawsuits could pursue civil remedies on behalf of their clients who have been harmed.

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