What Is An Assumption of Risk?

Assumption of risk is when a personal injury victim decides to take the blame for their damages before the court. In this case, the plaintiff releases the defendant from any liability by assuming the risk of injury as their fault. This is also an affirmative defense for defendants so that they are not held liable for damages. However, this can also be replaced by comparative negligence in the jurisdiction. Instead of a full assumption of risk, the plaintiff can be held partially responsible for their damages. In this circumstance, they can still be provided a percentage of the compensation. 

According to tort law, the defendant can claim the assumption of risk through an affirmative defense in certain circumstances. This prevents the plaintiff from holding them responsible for damages. 

The Plaintiff Knew About The Danger

The plaintiff understood they were doing something dangerous but did it anyway. For example, if a sign on a property stated, “Enter at your own risk,” but the plaintiff entered the property and got badly injured, then this may be a case where the assumption of risk can be applied. 

The Plaintiff Signed A Waiver or Release Form

If a plaintiff enters a hazardous situation and signs a waiver but gets badly injured afterward, they may not be able to receive damages in most cases. While this isn’t always the case, the waiver can release the defendant from liability if the plaintiff signed an agreement acknowledging the dangers they were getting into.

For example, a plaintiff may have decided to go bungee jumping and sign a waiver agreement, then suffers chronic neck pain for months that results in medical bills for physical therapy. In this case, they may be unable to hold the bungee jumping business owner responsible. If the bungee jumping cable snapped and they fell and broke their leg, the business owner may be held liable for poor maintenance of equipment. 

The Plaintiff Performed An Extreme Activity Knowing the Consequences

When a plaintiff gets involved in an extreme activity and knows that they may be injured in the process, this can also be a reason Assumption of Risk is upheld in court. Extreme sports like skateboarding or cliff diving can put the lives of athletes at risk. However, the damages that result from these activities may be the plaintiff’s responsibility alone. 

An assumption of risk defense can absolve the defendant of any blame if the following two tenets are satisfied: 

  • The plaintiff voluntarily got involved in a risky situation and agreed verbally or on paper. 
  • The plaintiff knew about the risks involved and knew about the possible consequences. 

If the plaintiff assumed the risk and there is proof that they agreed to the action, the defendant cannot be held liable for their injuries. Find out from an attorney whether the assumption of risk may impact your lawsuit.