Assumption of Risk Legal Definition

What is Assumption of Risk?” 

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  • Assumption of Risk
Assumption of Risk Legal Definition

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Assumption of risk legal definition: In civil actions, the assumption of risk is a legal defense asserting that a defendant is not entitled to damages because they “freely and knowingly” assumed risking injury – relieving the defendant from having to act with what is known as “reasonable care.”

In layman’s terms, it means that a person who willingly and knowingly puts themselves in a dangerous situation cannot file suit to recover legal compensation if they subsequently suffer an injury.

Assumption of risk can be:

  • Express – Express assumption of risk is made verbally or  in writing – generally in the form of a waiver or contract. 
  • Implied – Implied assumption of risk is when an inherent danger is understood. Examples of implied risk include attending a baseball game, riding a high-speed roller coaster, or jumping out of an airplane. In many instances, there is implied assumption of risk when participating in activities where signage indicates hazards or dangers.

It should be noted that assumption of risk does not protect against liability for intentionally reckless behavior that causes what is known as a “foreseeable” injury. It should also be noted that there is no assumption of risk doctrine in the state of Pennsylvania. 

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Assumption of Risk in Car Accident Cases

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and file an injury claim, your insurance company may raise an assumption of risk defense. Insurance companies keep fat bottom lines by aggressively defending injury claims, and part of that is asserting that you were at least partially at fault for the accident. 

In Pennsylvania, a legal doctrine known as comparative negligence is applied to determine what if any damages are awarded in car accident injury cases. Comparative negligence is determined using a formula that examines each party’s percentage of fault in the car accident.

Insurance companies will use expert witnesses and in some cases your own statements to prove your liability in the accident that caused your injuries, and your legal compensation would be reduced proportionately. These complicated legal defenses employed by car insurance companies is just one reason to call an experienced attorney if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.


Assumption of Risk in Medical Malpractice Cases

Assumption of risk is often raised as a defense in medical malpractice claims. If you were seriously injured as a result of a medical mistake, the insurance company may try to claim that you understood the risks associated with the medical procedure or device in question. 

However, an important aspect of the assumption of risk defense is in the injury itself. For example, if scarring was an inherent risk of a medical procedure that you knowingly underwent, such as a knee replacement, you likely would not be able to file suit for the resulting scars. However, if you suffered a stroke during that same medical procedure, you may be eligible for legal compensation because that would likely be considered an unforeseeable injury.

Medical malpractice defenses are among the most complex. If you’ve been injured because of a medical mistake, it’s in your best interest to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim.


Assumption of Risk in Personal Injury Cases

The assumption of risk defense is employed often in personal injury cases and is most successful in claims involving:

  • Contact sports such as football, basketball, and hockey
  • Spectator sports such as baseball
  • Dangerous activities such a skydiving, paragliding, and scuba diving

However, it’s important to understand that assumption of risk can come into play in any personal injury case. They include:

  • Slip-and-fall cases
  • Product injury cases
  • Injuries suffered at resorts or on cruises
  • Bicycle injuries
  • Pedestrian injuries
  • And more

Successfully nullifying an assumption of risk defense is best done with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. 


Assumption of Risk in Workers’ Compensation Cases

In Pennsylvania, workers injured on the job are entitled to benefits regardless of who was at fault. This means that injured employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of whether their accident was their own fault. Therefore, assumption of risk largely does not apply in workers’ compensation cases.





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