What Does ‘Assumption Of Risk’ Mean In A Personal Injury Case?
Assumption of risk in a personal injury case means the injured party knew the risks of a certain activity and voluntarily exposed themselves to it by continuing to engage in the activity. By proving the assumption of risk, the defendant in a civil lawsuit may win their case even if they acted with negligence and caused the complainant’s injuries.
If the defendant is successful, the injured party might not be eligible to recover any compensation in their case.
How This Defense Works in Virginia Personal Injury Cases
Virginia’s personal injury laws allow accident victims to hold the negligent party liable for their accident-related expenses and losses. In general, when a person suffers injuries because of someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, they have several options for pursuing compensation. These options include:
- Filing an insurance claim based on the at-fault party’s liability policy
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit
Once the victim files a claim or lawsuit, both sides investigate the incident and begin to uncover evidence to show exactly what happened, why, and how. Occasionally, it may come to light that the injured party was aware of a serious risk associated with an activity but choose to participate anyway. Under Virginia law, proving this in court allows the party accused of being at-fault to successfully avoid being accountable for the victim’s injuries and expenses.
Proving Assumption of Risk in a Virginia Civil Case
Under Virginia law, the party accused of causing the accident needs to provide strong proof that the Doctrine of Assumption of the Risk applies in their case in order for it to bar the claimant from recovery.
There are two elements of assumption of risk they must prove:
- The victim fully understood the nature and severity of the risk involved; and
- The victim chose to participate in the activity anyway, accepting the risk voluntarily
Because risk is relatively subjective and it is difficult to prove someone else’s knowledge, the Doctrine of Assumption of the Risk can be difficult to prove.
What Can Happen If the Defendant Proves You Voluntarily Assumed the Risk
If the defendant successfully proves the Doctrine of Assumption of the Risk in a Virginia personal injury case, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries. This is true even if you can prove the defendant acted negligently and caused the incident and your injuries.
This defense has the potential to bar recovery entirely, including:
- Current economic losses
- Future economic losses
- Non-economic losses including “pain and suffering and inconvenience”
For example, imagine you knew your neighbor’s dog had a history of vicious behavior and injured a mutual friend. If you go into their yard and the dog bites you, they will have a strong argument that you knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk. You knew the dog could attack, and you knew its history and the harm it caused your friend. Still, you chose to enter their yard.
While they are legally liable for the actions of their dog in most cases, the courts could bar you from recovering compensation for your dog bite because of the assumption of risk doctrine.
Let the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC Review Your Virginia Personal Injury Case
At the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, our team can review your case and pursue a payout based on the facts of your accident. If the at-fault party accuses you of assumption of risk, we will attempt to counter this defense and recover compensation on your behalf. This defense is often difficult to prove, so do not hesitate to take action by calling us even if you believe this may apply in your case.
Attorney Jim Parrish spent years representing insurance companies, and he knows the lengths they will go to when avoiding a payout. He applies the information he learned from inside the industry to help him protect accident victims from getting short-changed by those same companies.
If you suffered injuries in a Virginia personal injury accident, or need help with your case nearby, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC today at 571-229-1800. We will evaluate your case for free and explain your legal options for pursuing damages. Remember to act quickly or risk overstepping the statute of limitations.