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Assumption of Risk

Definition - What does Assumption of Risk mean?

An assumption of risk is a valid defense in a personal injury claim in which the plaintiff is injured performing an activity but the defendant, who is being sued, is able to prove the activity was so inherently or obviously hazardous that the plaintiff should have known about the risk but chose to engage in the activity anyway. If the court agrees the plaintiff is culpable for their own injuries, the plaintiff may not be able to recover damages.

Proving Assumption of Risk

To prove assumption of risk the defendant must show the plaintiff had actual, subjective knowledge of the risk and they voluntarily accepted the risk. This defense cannot be used if the plaintiff did not know about the dangers.

For example, if you visit an amusement park and you decide to ride a roller coaster if you are injured from normal operations of the ride such as going upside down the amusement park may be able to prove that you should have known about the potential risk of injury. If, however, the roller coaster flies off the tracks and you are injured, you could argue this was an unexpected danger.

Waiver and Assumption of Risk

Before engaging in certain dangerous activities businesses and operators commonly notify participants of the potential dangers and have them sign a Waiver and Assumption of Risk form. The hope is that this form will release a company or individual from all liability for injuries, property damage, or death which may result from participation in a physical activity.

Common activities which may require a Waiver and Assumption of Risk form to be completed include marathons, weight lifting competitions, karate tournaments, sky-diving, parasailing, bungee jumping and skiing.

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