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What is Assumption of Risk

Feb 14, 2015 | Legal Terminology

Assumption of Risk Doctrine

When you are engaging in inherently dangerous activities for recreational purposes only, you should know what assumption of risk doctrine is, and how it could affect you in the state of New York.


Any recreational activity comes with a certain degree of risk.

For example, if you are involved in a dangerous activity such as skiing, riding a snow mobile, or engaging in rock climbing, and now you are injured during the course of that activity. You decide to sue the place or the tour company that manages these tours or activities, claiming that they were negligent or careless, and because of that, you suffered significant injuries.

One of the things you are going to notice is that the people whom you are suing will turn around and say that you assumed the risk, and because you engaged in an activity that is inherently dangerous, they cannot be held responsible for your injuries. Since you engaged in the dangerous activity, you knew about the risks involved in that activity. You may have also signed some paper work admitting you know about this risk indemnifying the business escorting or managing this activity.

Why is this Argument Important?

How can this argument change the outcome of your potential personal injury case? As your case proceeds through the litigation process, the defense lawyers will have an opportunity to ask you questions before the trial, in a session called a deposition, which is a question and answer session held under oath. The defense lawyer will ask you whether you were engaged in this type of dangerous activity before.

The lawyer will want to know whether you have hurt yourself before, or whether you know someone who got hurt while doing this type of activity. Basically, the defense lawyer will want to know whether you were fully aware of the risks associated with this particular activity. Most importantly, the defense will try to find out what the risks were and whether you knew about them.

You Assumed the Risks

Why would the defense want to know whether you knew about the risks? This is because, if you knew about the risks, and voluntarily and willingly engaged in the dangerous activity, then the defense cannot be held accountable for your injuries. The defense will tell the jury that everything they did was appropriate. The plaintiff knew about the risks associated with the activity, and willingly went ahead and engaged in that activity, and now that the plaintiff is injured doing the activity, how can he claim the defense responsible. This is a compelling argument that the defense is making to the jury.

You have an Uphill Climb if You Decide to File a Suit

In fact, when you go to places to participate in these types of dangerous activities, you will notice on the permission slip that you have to sign (as already mentioned), a list of warnings and risks. Hence, when you participate in these types of sports or activities, be aware what you are signing, as it will have the list of risks associated with the activity. They make you sign such documents because if you file a lawsuit, they can claim you were already aware of the risks associated with the activity. And you were aware that you could suffer significant injuries if you chose to sign up and be a part of the group or if you chose to walk down the avenue all alone.

If you are aware of the risks, then you have assumed the risk of possibly becoming injured, and hence you cannot hold anybody accountable for your injuries.