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Understanding the “Assumption of Risk” Doctrine


Some activities, like football and other contact sports, are inherently dangerous. If you sustain an injury while participating in an inherently dangerous activity it’s difficult to bring a successful personal injury lawsuit. For example, if you are injured while playing football a personal injury lawsuit against the defensive end who tackled you and broke your leg likely won’t succeed.

This situation falls under the “assumption of the risk” doctrine.

What Is Assumption of Risk?

Under the “assumption of the risk” doctrine, courts limit liability in cases where injured plaintiffs knew the risks of a dangerous activity. A plaintiff who “assumed” the risk can’t necessarily blame anyone else for his injury. In other words, if you sue an allegedly negligent actor for damages, the defendant can say, yes, the plaintiff sustained an injury, but the plaintiff knew what he was getting himself into. If the court agrees that the plaintiff assumed the risk then the defendant can often avoid liability.

But Florida law only applies the assumption of the risk doctrine under limited circumstances. Contact sport injuries are a prime example. While there are situations in which a party injured while playing contact sports can successfully sue for damages, in most cases courts will find that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury.

The assumption of risk doctrine also applies to express contracts not to sue. One of the situations in which this rule applies might surprise you.

There’s No Suing in Baseball

Have you ever read the fine print on a ticket to a major league baseball game? It comes with a disclaimer that says the ticket holder assumes the risks and dangers incidental to baseball.

According to a 2014 Bloomberg article, more than 1,700 baseball fans are injured every year — usually by foul balls and splintered bats. Some of those injuries are serious, requiring surgery and months of recovery. Baseball fans know to watch out for foul balls and broken bats, but sometimes it’s impossible to get out of the way in time. Even still, courts have held that baseball teams only have a limited duty to protect fans. People sitting in the “danger zone” (near home plate) are protected by netting, but that doesn’t help a fan sitting along the third base line.

In fact, a fan who was badly injured by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium in 2011 sued for compensation, but a New York court ruled that he assumed the risk of injury. Some ballparks are considering adding more protective netting, but that won’t help injured fans win their personal injury lawsuits.

Contact Us Today

Contact a Jacksonville personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you were injured by someone else’s negligence. Our experienced attorneys know how to combat defensive tactics like the assumption of risk doctrine. We will help you recover compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Miami, West Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.




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