The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday voted to “Postpone Indefinitely” a vote on SB 36, a bill “Concerning the limitation of civil liability for injuries resulting from the inherent risks of mountain bicycling.” The bill would place limits the civil liability of mountain bicycling area operators, mountain bicycling instructors and providers, and mountain bicycling event organizers for injuries to mountain bicycle riders resulting from the inherent dangers and risks of mountain bicycling. The bill states that civil liability is not limited when an area operator, instructor or provider, or event organizer:
• Rents, sells, or otherwise provides to a rider a bicycle that the person knows is faulty and the bicycle is faulty to the extent that it causes injury;
• Commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the rider, and the act or omission causes injury; or
• Intentionally injures the rider.
The bill specifies duties of riders, and does not affect the ability of a rider to recover from another rider for injuries caused by the other rider’s act or omission. A rider must heed any posted information and other warnings and refrain from acting in a manner that may cause or contribute to the injury of the rider or others.
So this bill would altogether bar claims of negligence against any Mountain Bike operation, even for “gross negligence,” and barring a level of intent which would be impossible to prove, would effectively immunize the industry. Under current state law, Mountain Bike operations have no liability except for “gross negligence,” in any event given the waivers taken from every participant. Immunities found in the mountain biking bill do not protect mountain bikers, but take away bikers’ rights and other legal remedies to hold wrongdoers accountable. The members of the Judiciary Committee who voted to shelve this proposal should be acknowledged as appropriately declining to offer yet another special interest group in Colorado immunity for harm caused to others.