What is an ‘Assumption of Risk’ and Why Does it Matter?
In some personal injury cases, the ‘assumption of risk’ defense becomes an issue. While assumptions of risk are not something that everyone who suffers a personal injury has to worry about, the issue can significantly impact your ability to recover money for the injuries you suffered. Today, we are going to take a close look at the assumption of risk, what it means, and why, if you have suffered a personal injury, you need to understand it.
When you talk about assumptions of risk and personal injury cases, you’re talking about torts. Torts are a type of lawsuit that can arise after someone suffers harm or injuries because of someone else’s negligent or intentional behavior. When someone suffers an injury in this situation, the law allows that person to sue the wrongdoer to recover damages (money) for his or her injuries. A tort lawsuit involves the injured person (the plaintiff), suing the wrongdoer, (the defendant).
A legal defense in a tort case is essentially a valid excuse. When a defendant uses a legal defense in a tort case, the defendant is effectively admitting that he or she did do something that caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury, nevertheless, the plaintiff is prevented from recovering damages. When a defendant uses a legal defense, it’s up to the defendant to prove that the conditions of the defense have been met.
In other words, though a plaintiff has to show that the defendant caused the harm that is the subject of the lawsuit, a defendant who wants to use a legal defense has to prove that the defense applies to the case.
For example, let’s say that a friend takes you hiking. During the hike, you injure your ankle. You decide to sue your friend for the medical expenses and lost income that resulted from your injured ankle.
In this case, your friend could probably use an assumption of risk defense to show that because you knew that what you were doing was potentially dangerous, you shouldn’t be able to recover damages from him.
Assumption of Risk and Tort Cases
The assumption of risk defense is one in which a defendant claims that the plaintiff would not have suffered the injury if the plaintiff hadn’t acted improperly. Essentially, a defendant who uses an assumption of risk defense is saying that the plaintiff did something that, at least in part, caused him or her to suffer the injuries in the case. Furthermore, because the plaintiff knew, or should have known, that what he or she did was dangerous or wrong, the plaintiff shouldn’t be allowed to recover money for those injuries.
Assumption of Risk and Your Personal Injury Case
Any time you are discussing legal issues, terminology, or defenses, it’s vital that you talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area. The average person does not have nearly enough experience or training in the law to determine how various potential legal issues might affect their case. The only way to know for certain if an assumption of risk defense, or any other issue, will play a role in your case is to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.