Understanding Assumption of Risk

If you were hurt in a personal injury accident, you need to be prepared for defenses the at-fault party may raise. One of these is that you assumed the risk of injury. This can be a complicated aspect of a case, and if successful, it could eliminate or drastically reduce any compensation you might receive. 

A personal injury attorney can review the circumstances and inform you whether the assumption of risk might be an issue in your case and how to overcome it. 

What Is the Assumption of Risk? 

Assumption of risk is the legal principle that a plaintiff should not be able to recover for injuries they suffered when they willingly assumed the risk inherent in the activity. 

Sometimes, certain activities have inherent dangers that people know about. If they realize this risk and still decide to take part in the activity, they might be barred from recovering compensation for the subsequent injuries they suffer. 

Because you knew the activity was dangerous and could harm yourself or others, and you willingly chose to participate anyway, you voluntarily accepted the risk and forfeited your right to recover compensation for your injuries. 

Assumption of risk is used as a defense in personal injury cases. This defense might not prevent someone from suing the defendant, but it could be used to have the case dismissed against the defendant. However, the defense is not absolute, and there are times when it may not apply. 

When Might the Assumption of Risk Defense Arise? 

Cases involving the assumption of risk often involve sports injuries. For example, a person may be part of a football league. If they are injured while playing the sport, they may be said to assume the risk of the possibility of being injured. Being tackled and physically contacted is within the ordinary scope of the game. 

The defense may also arise in spectating activities. For example, if a person goes to a baseball game, they may assume the risk of being injured by a fly ball because this risk is inherent in the game of baseball. 

The defense might also arise in cases involving recreational activities, riding amusement rides, and other activities that have inherent risks. 

The assumption of risk can also involve cases in which a person signs a contract stating they are assuming the risk. They agree in advance that if they are injured, they have no right to sue the defendant. 

For example, they may sign a contract with a gym stating that they assume the risk of suffering injuries while using the gym equipment. These preemptive releases are not favored in Missouri, but they can be enforced in certain situations, depending on the circumstances and the language in the contract. 

In some situations, participation in an activity serves as an acknowledgment of the assumption of risk, such as a cruise ship ticket that says the guest may assume the risk of injury. 

Common types of activities and events that involve the assumption of risk defense include:

  • Golf
  • Water skiing
  • Horseback riding
  • Figure skating
  • Concerts
  • Festivals
  • Riding a scooter
  • Shooting range injuries
  • Using various products

Assumption of risk generally does not apply a blanket defense based on a particular activity. Instead, the court may have to look at the specific circumstances surrounding the injury to determine whether the defense applies and serves as a complete bar to recovery. 

How Do You Prove You Did Not Assume the Risk?

You may be able to prove you did not assume the risk by showing that you were injured in a way that is not inherent in the activity. 

For example, you may have been injured in a gym because the equipment was defective, not from suffering a muscle strain. You may have been injured playing football because another player intentionally injured you. You may have been injured on the premises because it was not properly maintained. 

Even if you signed a release of liability based on the assumption of risk, that may not be sufficient to erase all potential liability if you were injured because of an intentional act or gross negligence. Also, it does not apply if the defendant violated a law that contributed to the injury. 

Due to the complexities involved in cases in which the assumption of risk defense may arise, you may wish to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for help.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

For more information, please contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.

St. Louis Office
1430 Washington Ave Suite #226 St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 400-0000

Kansas City Office
1509 NE Parvin Rd, Suite A., Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 408-3448

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