What Is Assumption Of Risk?

An assumption of risk is a legal theory that holds that an injury victim knew that a situation was dangerous, but they still went ahead (voluntarily) to put themselves in the situation. It is a common affirmative defense put up by defendants facing tort claims. There are two main categories of assumption of risk.

Express Assumption of Risk

This theory applies when someone gives their "express agreement," typically a written one, before placing themselves in a dangerous situation. It takes the form of a written contract between two parties and is aimed at absolving one party of liability in case the other party gets injured due to the elements of the contract.

For example, before signing up for a rock climbing expedition, the organizers may require you to sign a waiver that makes you assume the risks of rock climbing and relieves them of responsibility should you get injured during the activity. You are said to have made an express risk of assumption if you voluntarily sign the waiver form.

Implied Assumption of Risk

Just like the name suggests, an implied assumption of risk does not involve any written agreements or contracts. Rather, it can be implied from your actions or oral statements. That is, your actions or statements can reveal to others that you know the risks of the situation you are about to enter and that you shouldn't or won't sue anyone if you get injured. This is why an implied assumption of risk is common with situations or activities that are obviously dangerous.

A good example is when the organizer of a hike discusses all the dangerous animals you may meet on the trail, but you still agree to go on the hike. In such a case, it is clear to everyone that you are assuming the risk of getting attacked by such animals.

There are some subcategories of both express and implied assumptions of risk, such as:

Primary Assumption of Risk

This applies if the defendant did not owe you a duty to protect you from the risk that occurred. A good example is when you get injured by twisting your ankle while playing soccer. The organizers of the tournament clearly have no duty in preventing you from twisting your ankle, but you also know that such an injury is possible and you assume its risk when you start playing.

Secondary Assumption of Risk

This applies if the defendant did owe you a duty to protect you from the injury you incurred, but you knew about the risk and went ahead to put yourself in the dangerous situation. A good example is when taking a ride at an amusement park; the park management owes you the duty of keeping you safe during the ride, but you also know that the ride is dangerous.

For more information, contact your preferred personal injury lawyer.