Defenses to Premises Liability: Assumption of Risk
Premises liability laws make it possible for you to hold others accountable if you were injured on their property. Every property owner and manager has a duty of care to visitors and tenants.
Negligence can contribute to accidents that cause minor to severe injuries to others. But there are a number of defenses they can use when facing a personal injury case based on premises liability.
The assumption of risk is a legal defense you need to understand if you’ve been injured and believe you’re entitled to be compensated for your injuries and other damages.
The Role of Negligence and the Assumption of Risk
Property owners are responsible for injuries when they fail to maintain the premises or address safety risks. Negligence is the basis for most cases that involve premises liability.
But there are factors needed in order for the courts to agree that a defendant was negligent. These include the presence of a duty of care, the breach of that duty, and the evidence that shows how the breach led to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Defendants use the assumption of risk to deny negligence. This implies that any individual who assumes a risk of harm and acts voluntarily may not recover compensation for any damages that result from those actions.
If the plaintiff knew that they could be hurt while on someone’s property, the defendant can’t be held responsible.
Disproving Negligence in Premises Liability
Defendants use the assumption of risk to show that the plaintiff had full knowledge of the probability of harm and chose to be on the property anyway. Acceptance of risk can be implied or expressed in writing.
Disproving claims of negligence is the primary legal strategy defendants use in premises liability cases. In addition to the assumption of risk, defendants may cite contributory and comparative negligence in their defense.
Contributory negligence exists when plaintiffs have played some role in causing their injuries. This can prevent plaintiffs from receiving compensation for any damages.
Comparative negligence exists when the plaintiff shares some portion of negligence that contributed to their injuries. This may cause the compensation to be reduced according to their share of negligence.
A plaintiff may assume risk through words or actions. Any implied assumption of risk must be considered in premises liability cases. Proving an implied assumption of risk is often more difficult.
Proving Assumption of Risk
Defendants can show the courts that a plaintiff assumed the risks involved in entering a property. There are three elements that need to exist in order to prove an assumption of risk:
- The plaintiff knew about the existing safety hazards.
- The plaintiff understood the dangers resulting from those hazards.
- The plaintiff voluntarily remained on the property despite those risks.
Whether you’re a plaintiff who’s been injured or a defendant looking to protect yourself from liability, you need to understand assumption of risk and other defenses that are used in premises liability cases.
Consulting with an experienced and expert personal injury attorney is a good way to determine what your legal options are.
An attorney who understands premises liability laws helps plaintiffs get the compensation they deserve or protect defendants and their properties from legal claims.