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Definition of Assumption of Risk

An assumption of risk is the risk assumed when engaging in inherently dangerous or risky actions. Claimants who engage in such activities may legally forfeit their right to compensation from a potential injury. Assumption of risk is an available defense for certain types of personal injury claims. To prove assumption of risk several requirements must be met:

  • The plaintiff had actual knowledge of the risk involved in the conduct or activity;
  • The plaintiff must have the capacity to understand any type of written agreement or contract waiving liability. For instance, a mentally ill patient cannot waive their rights to sue their doctor.
  • The plaintiff voluntarily accepted the risk, either expressly through agreement or implied by their words and conduct. Consider, however, the plaintiff could not have been forced to participate in the activity.

Express assumption of risk usually takes the form of a written agreement between the plaintiff and defendant (i.e. a skydiving waiver of liability). Assumption of risk can also be assumed if a plaintiff is engaged in certain sporting activities, is entering a hazardous area, or participating in an activity where there is an inherent and obvious danger.

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