When people participate in activities they know to be dangerous or risky, there is a personal injury doctrine that prevents them from collecting injury damages when they are indeed hurt in the process. That’s called Assumption of Risk. It’s not just those that assume a risk based on commonly understood danger, however. This also applies to those who have been expressly warned.
Of course, activities that require waivers prove knowledge of dangers involved. But even those situations where warning signs are provided give some level of protection against personal injury claims based on assumption of risk. When someone enters a pool are that has posted signs warning against diving and dives anyway, suffering a head injury as a result, they have relinquished their right to recover damages by ignoring the signage and diving anyway.
Exceptions to the Assumption of Risk Rule
Though most assumption of risk defenses are pretty solid, there are some exceptions where victims of injury who volunteered to participate despite the risks involved may be successful in recovering damages.
When Injuries Unrelated to the Activity Occur:
When you assume the risk to a certain activity, you assume known risks, risks that are typical of the activity itself. So someone in the stands of a baseball stadium watching the game assumes the risks that are typical of that activity. So if you get hit in the face with an errant ball and suffer a broken nose, the stadium, the team and the player are not typically going to be held liable for your injuries. But let’s say you are seated in the stands and the bleachers above you collapse and fall sending people above flying down into your section. Because this injury is not related to the activity itself, watching a typical baseball game, you may be able to recover personal injury damages for your injuries.
Likewise, if you’re swimming in a hotel pool that has warning signs against diving, and a ceramic flower pot falls from a balcony above hitting you and causing injury, because that hazard is one that is unrelated to the warnings implied in the pool signage and the risk assumed with the activity of swimming in a pool, you may be entitled to substantial personal injury damages.
When the Defendant’s Negligence Results in Injury:
Yes, it’s assumed that some risk is inherent in activities like riding a roller coaster at a traveling carnival. Thrill rides would not be thrilling without the risk. However, it’s also assumed that the proprietors and those responsible for maintaining the equipment are doing their part to ensure everything is is proper working order and that customers are being kept as safe as can be expected. So assumption of risk does not defend against neglect or reckless behavior on the part of the defendant.
Should the proprietors of the carnival fail to maintain the equipment and rides they operate or perhaps even cut corners, using substandard part, for instance, they can be held liable for damages that result from such neglect. The plaintiff has to show, then, that there was neglect on the part of the defendant and that their injuries actually stemmed from that neglect.
If you have questions regarding personal injury suffered at the hands of another individual’s or entity’s neglect or recklessness, you need the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney like those at Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago. Call us today at 773.881.9000 to speak with an attorney who can assess your claim. The case review is free and we never collect a fee unless we recover damages for you.