Most of us assume certain risks every day, whether it’s driving a car (accident risk), climbing the stairs (slip and fall risk) or just crossing the street (pedestrian accident risk).
In legal terms, an "assumption of risk" means that you take the responsibility for being injured when you voluntarily engage in conduct knowing the particular risks involved. For example, if you go snow skiing, you are well aware of the chance that you may fall and break a leg. In addition, someone who decides to run across a freeway is well aware of the likelihood of being hit by a car.
For the assumption of risk doctrine to apply, a plaintiff must have actual knowledge of the risk involved in the activity they are undertaking. If there are unknown dangers, assumption of risk does not apply. For example, if you are getting on an amusement park ride that operates in a way that flips you upside down, you assume the risks of being turned upside down. However, if a bolt comes loose and you are thrown from the ride, that is not an assumed risk.
The defense of assumption of risk is very fact-intensive, and there is no uniform outcome. Traditionally, if the court determines that you are responsible for your injuries, you would not collect any damages.
Because of the harshness of this rule, most states do not recognize assumption of risk as a defense. Instead, they allow defendants to raise the defense of either contributory negligence or comparative negligence. Or, they will not accept assumption of risk as a complete bar to recovery and will reduce your award for damages according to how much fault you had in causing your injuries.
A personal injury lawyer can help you decide how this defense could affect the outcome of your case, and whether you have a case worth pursuing. If you, or someone you know, have been injured and need an attorney to help with your property damage settlement, our Texas personal injury attorneys can help. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.