Assumption of Risk
Under the legal doctrine of “assumption of risk,” a person will not be liable for another person’s injuries if the injured person has voluntarily undertaken a risk with knowledge of the dangers that are posed by the risk. The doctrine of assumption of risk may be used as a defense to a personal injury action.
Assumption of risk may be either express or implied. For example, before riding a roller coaster, an elderly man signs a waiver stating that he understands that risk roller coasters pose to persons with heart conditions. While riding the roller coaster, the elderly man has a heart attack. He files a personal injury action against the operator of the roller coaster. The operator may defend the action by claiming that the elderly man expressly assumed the risk by signing the waiver. If the court determines that the elderly man assumed the risk, then the operator will not be liable for the man’s injury. Even if the elderly man had not signed the waiver, the operator could defend the action by claiming that the elderly man impliedly assumed the risk because it is general knowledge that persons with heart conditions should not ride roller coasters.
Some states do not recognize the doctrine of assumption of risk as a defense to a personal injury action.