Can Assumption of Risk Affect My North Carolina Personal Injury Case

The basis of all personal injury claims is negligence; a victim’s claim that their injury was caused by someone else failing to take reasonable care, like following driving laws, to ensure that others would be safe from harm and it could affect your North Carolina personal injury case.

Does the assumption of risk apply to my North Carolina personal injury case?

There are, however, lots of activities, such as attending a sporting event and playing sports, that come with an inherent risk of injury. For example, you assume a risk of being struck by a rogue puck when you attend a hockey match, or of being hit by a foul ball while watching a baseball game. If you go swimming at a resort pool that does not have a lifeguard, there is likely going to be a sign advising you that you do so at your own risk. In some instances, you may be asked to sign a waiver acknowledging the possible dangers of a specific activity.

In legal terms, this is referred to as the assumption of risk and it is a common defense used by respondents in personal injury cases. This means that the respondent is claiming that the victim was aware that the activity in which they were participating might result in injury and, therefore, they are not entitled to collect financial compensation for their damages.

The assumption of risk defense is not an ace in the hole. Property managers and owners are still required to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries. For instance, hockey rinks and baseball fields must install protective glass and netting to help prevent injuries to patrons. Hotels have to be equipped with safety gear such as a ring buoy or life hook for guests to use in an emergency situation at an unmanned pool.

If you were badly injured under circumstances where you might have assumed a risk of injury but feel that someone else was ultimately to blame, we encourage you to speak with a North Carolina personal injury lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We can explain your legal options to you in a free initial case review.

What Does Assumption of Risk Mean?

Hampton, VA boat accident

Assumption of risk pertains to a legal doctrine under which a person is prohibited from recovering compensation for damages they sustained when they voluntarily exposed themselves to a known danger. It can be either expressed or implied. 

  • Expressed assumption of risk: Expressed assumption means the claimant was fully aware of the risk. In these instances, the claimant waived their right to damages for any injury they sustained during the regular scope of the activity in which they participated. They may have signed a waiver as a condition of their participation or accepted a waiver as part of a transaction, like purchasing a concert ticket.
  • Implied assumption of risk: Implied assumption means that any reasonable person participating in the activity would know there was a risk involved. A staff member who joins their company’s baseball league knows they might tear their ACL or sprain their ankle. 

However, neither understood risk nor a waiver will protect a person or a business from all liability for patron injuries.  

The guest who rides a roller coaster at a county fair or amusement park obviously assumes a degree of risk. If, however, the guest is injured when the roller coaster malfunctions due to improper installation or a lack of proper maintenance, the owner, manager, or operator could still be held financially responsible.

Activities That Require an Assumption of Risk

North Carolina offers many activities for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. Some recreational activities that are popular throughout the state that may involve an awareness of inherent risk or a waiver are:

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Skiing
  • Trampoline parks
  • Renting dirt bikes or ATVs
  • Go-kart racing
  • Skydiving
  • Riding jet skis
  • Renting a vehicle

Call a North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

There is an inherent factor of risk in many things that people do for business, recreation, and in the course of their day-to-day lives. Even when we are aware of the risk involved, we are still entitled to protection from harm due to willful misconduct and negligence. 

If you were injured due to events outside of the normal scope of participation in a potentially dangerous activity in North Carolina, reach out to a North Carolina personal injury attorney to find out if you have a valid legal claim. Contact the law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free legal consultation.

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