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“Assumption of Risk” & why you may be ineligible for compensation in a personal injury accident.

Updated: May 31, 2018

If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash that wasn’t your fault, you won’t necessarily be fully-compensated or possibly compensated at all, by the at-fault driver’s insurer. There is a legal defense known as “assumption of risk,” which is frequently paired with “contributory negligence.”

Defining assumption of the risk

If you think about making a choice to be part of a potentially dangerous situation, you can easily understand the meaning of “assumption of risk.” This doctrine can arise in a scenario where the defendant (the wrongdoer) claims that the injured person knowingly partook in an obviously dangerous and hazardous activity, and therefore, was responsible for his own injury, or at least negligently contributed to it.

Here’s an example. You and your friends go out for dinner, have a few drinks, and then go over to a local bar for some more drinks. When you leave, there is no designated driver and the operator of the vehicle is intoxicated when he gets behind the wheel. He misjudges the distance of on-coming traffic and makes a left turn. Everyone in the car is injured to varying degrees and you’ve broken your leg. Emergency vehicles come and the police arrest the driver for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

You are taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room. You are evaluated by the medical personnel who run a battery of diagnostic tests (X-rays, CT scan, or maybe an MRI) and determine that you require surgery. You spend a few days in the hospital, go to physical therapy for a few weeks, and miss a lot of work. Either on your own or with the help of a personal injury attorney, you file a claim against the driver’s insurance company for medical, lost wages, and other associated costs.

Settlement of a case involving assumption of the risk

Who is at fault in this situation? Well, certainly the drunk driver bears the brunt of the responsibility, but because you knew he was impaired when he took the wheel of the car, you put yourself in a dangerous situation. Had you chosen not to get into the car, you never would have been injured, so the insurance company says your injury is due to your own choice. In such a case, you may not receive a settlement at all, but if you do, it will probably be much lower than you expected because you assumed the risk of danger to yourself.

Other possible scenarios of assumption of the risk

Agreeing to drive with a drunk driver is not the only scenario where assumption of the risk may occur. Here are a few others.

  • A driver or passenger decides not to use his seatbelt and is hit by a car that ran a red light.

  • A construction worker chooses not to wear his safety equipment provided at work and gets injured.

  • A skier falls and breaks an arm.

  • A pedestrian walks out into the street from between two cars and is hit by a driver who couldn’t stop in time.

If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident and you are not sure whether it falls under the “assumption of the risk” doctrine, please call us at 920-725-8464, or toll free at 1-800-529-1552. We will discuss all the possibilities of the situation and determine if you may be eligible for compensation. Our personal injury consultations are always free.

The content of this blog was prepared by Law Offices of DiRenzo & Bomier, LLC for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Offices of DiRenzo & Bomier, LLC -client relationships can only be created by written contract.

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