Assumption of Risk and How It Affects a Personal Injury Case

assumption of risk

Personal injury claims are based on an accident victim’s assertion that they were injured because someone else failed to take reasonable steps – such as obeying traffic laws – to ensure they would be safe from harm.

In many activities, however, such as participating in sports and attending a sports event, there is an inherent risk of injury. We assume a risk, for example, of being hit by a foul ball at a baseball game or a puck at a hockey match. If we swim at a hotel pool with no lifeguard on duty, a sign may advise that we do so at our own risk. In some cases, we sign waivers acknowledging the potential danger of an activity.

This is known legally as the assumption of risk. A defendant in a personal injury claim may assert the assumption of risk defense. The defendant may claim the injured person knew that the activity they were undertaking could lead to harm and therefore the injured person does not qualify for compensation for their injuries.

But the assumption of risk defense can sometimes be overcome. Property owners still must take reasonable steps to prevent injuries. For example, baseball stadiums and hockey arenas are required to erect protective netting and glass to prevent injuries to spectators. Hotels must provide safety equipment such as a life hook or ring buoy for use in an emergency at an unattended pool.

If you have been seriously injured in a situation where you may have assumed a risk of injury but believe others were at fault, you should speak to a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney at Hardison & Cochran in Raleigh, NC, can help you understand your legal options. The initial case review is free.

What Is Assumption of Risk?

Assumption of is a legal doctrine that says an injured plaintiff voluntarily accepted the risk of their actions. Assumption of risk can either be expressed or implied.

Expressed assumption of risk means the plaintiff has acknowledged a warning of the risk. In such cases, the individual has waived their right to claim damages for injury suffered in the normal course of the activity they are undertaking. A person may sign a waiver as a condition of participation or accept a waiver as part of a transaction, such as a ticket purchase.

Implied assumption of risk means any reasonable participant in the activity would realize they were taking a risk. The weekend athlete who joins a pickup basketball game knows they could twist an ankle or tear an ACL.

However, neither a waiver nor understood risk shields a business or individuals from all liability for harm to patrons.

The rider of a thrill ride at an amusement park or state fair assumes some risk. But if the rider is injured because the ride malfunctions due to lack of maintenance or improper installation, the amusement operator still may still be held financially liable.

A customer who races go-carts at an amusement center assumes the risk of blunt-force injury in a collision. It is understood that collisions are common in go-cart racing. But if a customer crashes and is injured because a wheel falls off of their vehicle or the frame splits, this may be an issue of faulty maintenance or design and could lead to a claim.

Activities That Require an Assumption of Risk

Some additional activities that might require a waiver or an understanding of the inherent risk include:

  • Ziplines
  • Bungee jumping
  • Trampoline parks
  • Skiing
  • Hang gliding lessons
  • Renting ATVs or dirt bikes
  • Renting jet skis
  • Skydiving
  • Renting a car

Contact a Raleigh, NC, Personal Injury Lawyer

Risk is inherent in many things we do for recreation, business, or in our everyday lives. However, even with an acknowledged assumption of risk, we have the right to protection from harm caused by negligence or purposeful misconduct.

If you have been injured due to circumstances beyond the normal course of participation in a potentially risky activity in North Carolina, speak to a personal injury lawyer about your rights and a possible legal claim. Contact Hardison & Cochran Attorneys at Law for a free legal consultation.