What is Assumption of Risk?

If you have knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk inherent in a particular action that caused an injury, you cannot sue anyone to recover damages. Assume, for example, a situation in which you went to a friend's house and were warned against using the backdoor because the deck was seriously damaged and would not support the weight of a person walking on it. If you decided to ignore the warning and use the back door, the doctrine of Assumption of Risk would likely bar recovery for injuries sustained from a fall through the damaged deck. The court would find that you "assumed the risk" of that injury.

The doctrine also applies to pharmaceutical product liability cases. Assume, for example, a case in which the injured person was hurt when he or she fell asleep at the wheel and crashed an automobile into a tree after taking medicine and then consuming alcohol. Assume also, that the medication label bore a warning against consuming alcohol while taking it because of the increased risk of drowsiness. In that case a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the medication would likely fail, with the court holding that the injured person had voluntarily assumed the risk of his or her injuries by failing to heed the warning on the label.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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