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“Assumption of the Risk” in Recreational Activities

PEOPLE WHO ENGAGE IN RISKY RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES MAY “ACCEPT THE RISK” OF CERTAIN INJURIES

“Assumption of the risk” is a legal doctrine that, in proper circumstances, negates a defendant’s duty of care to an injured plaintiff. In practical terms, this means the defendant generally will not be held legally liable (on a standard negligence claim) for certain types of injuries or damages.

While the defendant does have a duty not to increase the risks the plaintiff faces, and the law may still hold the defendant liable on other legal theories, people who engage in certain types of risky recreational activities should be aware that the law may consider participation in those activities an acceptance of certain risks.

Specifically, the plaintiff is generally held to have accepted the risks that are integral to (essentially, “a normal, understood part of”) the activity in question. Generally speaking, an “integral risk” is a risk that cannot be eliminated without changing the nature of the activity. For example, snowboarding carries integral risks of falling and of colliding with trees and other objects (including people) on the slope.

ASSUMPTION OF THE RISK DOES NOT COVER INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT OR RECKLESS CONDUCT.

People who engage in risky activities do accept a certain level of inherent risk, but those risks do not include the intentional misconduct or reckless conduct of other people. Conduct is considered “reckless” when it shows a disregard for safety or exceeds the normal range of reasonable conduct for the activity in question. Intentional misconduct is generally easier to recognize: conduct within the sport that’s deliberately intended to harm another participant (or spectators), or intended to create additional risk, is generally not governed by assumption of the risk.

ASSUMPTION OF THE RISK APPLIES TO MANY RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES – NOT ONLY “INHERENTLY DANGEROUS” ONES.

Assumption of the risk has been broadly applied to sports and recreational activities. While the level of risk participants assume is fact-specific, and varies broadly across activities, people who participate in sports or other recreational activities (indoor as well as outdoor) should investigate and understand the risks before engaging in the relevant sport or activity. Also, people participating in sports or other recreational activities should follow posted (or written) rules, observe safe practices, use proper sporting and safety equipment, and obtain instruction whenever advisable, to minimize the risk of injury.

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Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Negligence claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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