Gwyneth Paltrow Wins Her Ski Accident Case, Here’s Why
In February 2016, actress Gwyneth Paltrow was skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah when she collided with Terry Sanderson, a retired optometrist who alleged that Paltrow was skiing recklessly and caused the collision. Sanderson sued Paltrow for negligence and sought money damages. After a three-day trial, a Utah jury ruled in favor of Paltrow, awarding her the $1 in damages she requested.
So why did Paltrow win the case? In ski accident cases, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Negligence is defined as a failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances. In Paltrow’s case, Sanderson argued that Paltrow was skiing too fast and out of control, and that she failed to avoid the collision with him.
However, Paltrow presented evidence that she was skiing in control and that Sanderson was actually the one who was skiing recklessly and caused the collision. Paltrow also argued that Sanderson assumed the risk of skiing and therefore could not hold her responsible for her injuries.
What Is Assumption of Risk?
Assumption of risk is a legal doctrine that bars a plaintiff from recovering damages if the plaintiff voluntarily exposes himself to a known danger. In ski liability cases, the doctrine of assumption of risk often comes into play because skiing is an inherently dangerous activity and skiers assume certain risks then they hit the slopes. Therefore, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct went beyond the inherent risks of skiing in order to establish negligence.
In addition to assumption of risk, comparative fault is another concept that is often relevant in ski accident cases. Comparative fault is a legal doctrine that apportions damages between the plaintiff and defendant based on each party’s degree of fault. In other words, if the plaintiff was found partially at fault for his injuries, then his damages award is reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to him.
Finally, the $1 award in Paltrow’s favor is a somewhat unusual aspect of the case. The $1 award is known as a nominal damages award, and it is often used when a party has proven their claim, but has not suffered any actual damages, or choses not to request damages. In this case, Paltrow was awarded $1 in damages she requested.
In conclusion, ski liability cases can be complex and require a thorough understanding of legal concepts such as negligence, assumption of risk and comparative fault. In Paltrow’s case, she was able to convince the jury that she was not negligent and that Sanderson assumed the risk of skiing and was responsible for his own injuries.
If you have an questions about an accident claim, please feel free to contact our office.