Denlea & Carton


March 12, 2024

Ice Skating Injuries & Personal Injury Claims

You May Be Entitled to Compensation

If you were injured on the ice at a skating rink, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, these cases can beare quite complex, and a settlement or judgment in your favor is not a foregone conclusion. It is important to have an attorney on your side familiar with the ins and outs of complex premises injury law.

Because these cases are more complicated than some other premises liability claims, they often go to trial. Denlea & Carton is staffed with award-winning trial lawyers. Contact us today for more information, or keep reading to learn more about ice skating injuries and personal injury claims.

Can an Ice Skating Rink Be Held Liable for Injuries?

Like other premises owners, ice skating rinks have a duty of care to their patrons. They must provide a safe space in which to skate. Rink management must act reasonably to maintain this duty of care.

In particular, ice skating rinks have a duty of care to:

  • Have sufficient skate guards on duty
  • Limit the people on the ice to a reasonable and safe number
  • Maintain reasonably safe skating conditions
  • Maintain safe conditions throughout the rest of the facility
  • Align conditions with skater perception

Breach of duty of care can be a complicated matter in any premises liability case, but more so when ice skating rinks are involved. This is partly due to the assumption of risk that skaters take on by engaging in an activity that can cause injury. 

Breach of Duty of Care

A breach of duty of care must be present for a personal injury claim to be valid. For a breach of duty of care to be present, the skating rink must be aware of the hazard and have had the opportunity to fix the problem before the accident occurred.

Some examples of breach of duty of care by skating rinks include:

  • Failing to follow rink policy of three skate guards on duty
  • Failing to limit the number of people on the ice per rink policy, which should align with safety based on the size of the rink
  • Failing to maintain the ice in a reasonably safe manner
  • Obscuring risk by failing to maintain the integrity of the ice even when it looks safe to skaters

Negligence must be proven in any personal injury claim, and negligence cannot be proven if a breach of duty of care does not exist. For example, in the case of McBride vs the City of New York, the plaintiff claimed the slushy ice made it impossible for her to regain her balance after being shoved by another skater, and that the rink should have maintained the ice. 

McBride’s personal injury claim was summarily dismissed because no breach of duty existed. The rink was maintaining the ice per policy for the weather conditions, the ice had just started to become slushy, and there wais no indication that the slushy ice was responsible for the injury rather than the shove from another skater. 

Proving Negligence in Ice Skating Accidents

Proving negligence in ice skating accidents requires a lot of investigative work, including talking to witnesses and staff, reviewing maintenance records, and more. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must be able to prove that unsafe conditions caused the accident and that they could have been reasonably prevented. Alternatively, it can be proven that the rink was aware of a hazard and failed to act reasonably to correct it.

A good example of this is the case of Ciorciari vs New York City. In this case, the skater could not pinpoint the exact cause of her injury. One foot skipped on the ice, while the other skate became stuck. The skater fell sharply, breaking her ankle. However, she could not pinpoint the cause of the injury. Since the exact cause of the injury wais unknown, and the skater had assumed the risk of injury while skating,s an assumption of risk by engaging in the activity, the case was dismissed.

What is Assumptioncceptance of Risk?

Assumptioncceptance of risk is a legal doctrine that states that when someone engages in a dangerous activity, such as sporting or ice skating, there is a reasonable risk of injury. This injury risk has nothing to do with the duty of care of the ice skating rink, but rather the activity itself. By engaging in the activity, you are essentially taking on that risk without the ability to pursue an injury claim.

However, when the ice skating rink has acted negligently, the assumptioncceptance of risk defense is not sufficient to prevent settlement or judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. 

An Example of Premises Liability in an Ice Skating Injury Accident

The best example of premises liability in an ice skating injury accident is the case of Samuelson vs Wollman Rink Operations LLC et. al. In this case, the skater was injured on the ramp to the ice rather than the ice itself. The ramp had ice on it, which caused the skater to slip and fall causing a concussion and brain injury. While the plaintiff did not notify the skating rink of the hazard, others had notified the rink.

In this case, the case was not dismissed by summary judgment because:

  • The rink reasonably should have been aware of the hazard. 
  • Since the plaintiff was skating for 30 minutes after noticing the hazard, the defendant had sufficient time to correct the hazard.
  • Assumptioncceptance of risk does not apply because it was reasonable to expect the ramp to be clear.

The jury ultimately found for the plaintiff, but the ice rink continues to appeal. The most recent appeal was based on the potential liability of the company that made and installed the mat where the ice had accumulated. However, the New York Supreme Court found that no contract for maintenance existed between the skating rink and the mat company, and therefore the mat company was not liable.

Were You Injured on a New York Ice Skating Rink?

If you were injured on an ice skating rink in New York, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. These injuries come with high medical bills and lost wages during recovery, and you should not have to handle those financial losses on your own if someone else was responsible for your accident.

If you have been injured in an ice skating accident, contact us today at (914) 368-7168 for a free consultation. Our experienced trial lawyers are here to support you in your time of recovery.


James R. Denlea

Jeffrey I. Carton

Robert J. Berg

Lindsey Leibowitz

Amber Wallace

John Leifert

Craig Cepler

Steven Schoenfeld

Stan Sharovskiy

Phil Smith

Martin McCann

Catherine Friesen

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