Personal injury claims involve many complicated civil laws. Your understanding of these laws can significantly impact your case. One of the laws that may affect your right to recover financial compensation after an accident is the assumption of risk. This is a common affirmative defense defendants raise in negligence claims. The assumption of risk defense holds that an injured party knew of the risks involved in an activity and participated anyway – thus protecting the defendant from injury liability.
Assumption of Risk Defense in Personal Injury Law
Essentially, the assumption of risk defense states that you, an injured victim, knew about the hazards involved yet voluntarily engaged in the activity anyway. It argues that you knew or reasonably should have known about the risks of an accident or injury and knowingly exposed yourself to that risk; thus, assuming the risks of the activity. In many states, proof of assumption of risk can reduce a plaintiff’s recovery award or ban the plaintiff from recovery entirely. Many defendants will, therefore, use this affirmative defense in an attempt to minimize their responsibility for a plaintiff’s damages.
The assumption of risk defense is most common in cases involving dangerous activities such as weightlifting, skydiving, bungee jumping, amusement park rides and trampoline parks. It is also common in premises liability cases, such as cases involving No Trespassing and Enter at Your Own Risk signs. Some personal injury cases involve waivers of liability and the assumption of risk. If you agreed to sign a waiver excusing the defendant from liability for your injuries during a risky activity, it can be difficult to hold the defendant accountable for damages after an accident. A waiver of liability does not excuse a defendant from liability for negligence, however.
During your personal injury case, the assumption of risk defense might limit your ability to recover financial compensation if a judge or jury agrees that you had actual knowledge of the risk of injury and expressly or implicitly accepted that risk. Knowingly accepting a risk will generally release the defendant of any legal duty of care to you as a participant. Important exceptions exist, however, if the defendant was negligent, reckless or careless in causing your injuries.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Kansas City
Assumption of risk goes hand-in-hand with comparative negligence laws in Kansas City. A plaintiff may be comparatively liable for an accident if he or she contributed to causing it. Comparative liability can ban a plaintiff from recovery or reduce a compensatory award depending on state law. Kansas and Missouri have different comparative negligence laws.
In Kansas, a plaintiff may still recover compensation from the defendant as long as he or she was 49% or less at fault for the accident. With 50% or more responsibility for an accident, however, a plaintiff in Kansas will not recover any compensation. In Missouri, a plaintiff can recover with any percentage of fault under 100%. It is important to hire a Kansas City personal injury lawyer to help you minimize your comparative negligence during a personal injury claim in Kansas City if you wish to maximize your recovery.
How to Combat the Assumption of Risk Defense
It is not possible for a plaintiff to waive a defendant’s liability for all statements and conduct. Someone may still be liable for another person’s injuries despite a liability waiver if that person was negligent. If a defendant uses the assumption of risk defense during your personal injury claim, you or your lawyer can try to combat it through an argument of the defendant’s negligence. If your lawyer can prove the defendant’s negligence, recklessness or intentional misconduct caused your injuries, the defendant could be liable despite an assumption of risk, liability waiver and/or comparative negligence. Work with a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City for your best odds of fighting the assumption of risk and other common defenses.