One key tenet of personal injury law in the United States is that many people and organizations have a duty toward others. Failure to do that duty, known as breaching that duty, makes that party liable for compensation.
However, some defendants try to shift that responsibility onto the victim by claiming that the victim assumed the risk. What is the assumption of risk as a legal concept? And how can you defend yourself against it? Here's what you need to know.
What Is Legal Assumption of Risk?
Some activities are inherently more risky than others. If you plan to go skydiving, you are voluntarily engaging in an activity with a much higher risk level than other ordinary daily activities.
For legal purposes, the skydiving provider's duty toward you is limited because you are deemed to be aware of and taking on that extra risk of injury or death. In many such situations, you may sign a form explicitly stating this.
However, assuming the risk of activity doesn't require a signature. Being informed or having knowledge of the risk and yet continuing on is an implicit assumption of that risk. If you board the skydiving plane, you may have implicitly assumed the risk.
What Are the Defenses to Assumption of Risk?
If the defendant argues that you assumed the risk that resulted in your injury or harm, you can successfully counter that argument.
One of the most basic components of a defense may be that you weren't actually aware of the risk. Perhaps you are injured in a community haunted house attraction. The property owner may feel that you should have been aware that it came with a heightened risk, but you were not. Unless you expressly agreed to assume the risk in writing, you may have a solid defense.
In addition, just because you assume the risk doesn't free the defendant from all responsibility toward you. You may agree to take on the heightened risk from participating in an escape room, but the operator must still take reasonable measures to ensure safety. If they recklessly or wantonly ignore safety violations or known hazards, they may have breached their duty toward customers.
Where Can You Get Help?
Could your personal injury case involve the assumption of risk on your part? If so, you face a higher hurdle to win your case. Get help now by meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney in your state today.