What is the Assumption of Risk Doctrine and How Might it Affect My Personal Injury Case?

Assumption of the risk is a doctrine that can shield the defendant from liability if the plaintiff knowingly took risks. This doctrine is the law’s version of the concept that “you knew what you were getting into.”

Assumption of risk frequently comes into play in personal injury lawsuits after someone gets hurt while engaging in risky conduct. If the defendant in your personal injury case raises the defense of assumption of risk, you will want to talk with a South Carolina personal injury attorney to protect your right to go after money damages for your losses.

Express and Implied Assumption of Risk

There are two types of assumptions of risk that come into play as defenses in personal injury cases. These kinds of assumptions of risk are:

  • Express assumption of risk. With this type of assumption of risk, the individual either made a verbal statement that they understood the risk, or they signed some type of paper, like a waiver of liability.
  • Implied assumption of risk means that the person acted in a way that an onlooker would assume indicated voluntary participation in an activity with an understanding of the inherent risk.

Either express or implied assumption of risk can be a valid defense to a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Assumption of risk gets evaluated on a case-by-case basis and will turn on the facts of the situation.

Situations That Can Involve Assumption of Risk

It can help to understand the doctrine of assumption of risk if you explore several examples of situations in which this defense gets raised. 

  • Attending a sporting event. When you attend a sporting event, the back of your ticket might contain legalese that says that by attending the event, you assume the risk of injury. Very few people actually read this disclaimer, much less understand or agree to its terms.
  • Participating in sports. People who participate in sports, particularly contact sports, usually understand that there is a risk of injury. That assumption of the risk is for standard conduct on the part of other players, as opposed to a member of the other team pulling out a gun and shooting them.
  • Fight club. Someone who voluntarily participates in an activity like a fight club or sparring at a legal boxing club will need to show extraordinary circumstances to defeat the assumption of the risk doctrine.
  • Exercising at a fitness club. Working out at a fitness club can involve certain risks, like strains, sprains, back injuries, and medical emergencies like a heart attack. When the injury the plaintiff suffers is because of negligence on the part of the fitness club, however, the club cannot excuse the conduct by claiming assumption of the risk.
  • Street racing. Similar to voluntarily participating in a fight club, street racing is inherently dangerous. The conduct of the defendant must be particularly egregious to subject him to liability for personal injury.

A South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney could advocate for you if you got hurt because of someone else’s negligence, who then claims the defense of assumption of risk. Contact our office today for a free consultation.