Assumption of risk is not only limited to adventure sports, but one finds its use in various other fields.
Also known as volenti non fit injuria, assumption of risk is a defense that a defendant can raise, when accused of negligence by a plaintiff. It aims to defeat accidental claims by proving that the plaintiff knew of potential hazards and dangers, and he voluntarily exposed himself to such perils. This doctrine is dependent on the comparative negligence rule. It looks into the possibility of compensation by the party, against whom a lawsuit is brought. In case, the defendant is not able to plead the assumption of risk, then the privilege may be waived.
Let us suppose that a lady loses her husband due to cancer, and believes that he contracted it as he was addicted to cigarettes. She decides to sue XYZ cigarette company, as she thinks they are the ones responsible for her husband’s death. This company can raise the above mentioned doctrine, and argue that the man voluntarily assumed the risk of diseases and bad health, as he continued to smoke despite the statutory warnings on each cigarette pack. This way, they can defend themselves from accusations of negligence.
In the primary stage, it is assumed that the defendant has no breach of duty towards the plaintiff. The latter is completely aware of the dangers involved, and has relieved the defendant from any obligation of conduct towards him. If there is an undesirable outcome by the plaintiff’s actions, then the defendant cannot be held responsible for negligence. For example, if you are planning to participate in adventure sports, the organizers will make you sign a contract that will relieve them of any responsibility, in case some untoward incident happens to you.
In the secondary stage, although a legal contract is not signed between a plaintiff and a defendant, the latter one implicitly conveys that he is not to be blamed for negligence, in case of any harm or injury. For example, if you buy cheap electronics goods, the dealer might implicitly tell you the concerns regarding electric shocks. It implies that you are aware about the potential hazards involved, and the defendant is not entitled to any injury claim settlement.
In the third scenario, a plaintiff is cognizant of the risk that was previously created, but still proceeds with it. He is well aware that the defendant has known it to be hazardous, and consents to it with his own free will.
A Sample Form
|I ___________(name), recognize that the exercises in this competition might be challenging and risky, and there could be dangers inherent in these exercises for some individuals. I acknowledge that there is a chance of various complications; and in rare instances, death.
I also acknowledge, that during the course of this competition, I may suffer some serious injuries which can make me disabled for the rest of my life, and affect my employment and social life.
I acknowledge that a physical check-up will be conducted, to ascertain my capability of participating in this competition.
I acknowledge and agree, that I am responsible for any untoward incident that may happen during the course of this competition.
I acknowledge that I have thoroughly read this waiver, and I’m aware that it relieves the organizers of any liability. By signing this document, I accept that neither me nor any one associated with me will have any rights to legally challenge or assert a claim against the organizers, or anyone who is employed with them.
Name and Signature
The assumption of risk is widely used in sports activities. It is important to know the various dangers involved, before participating in any such programs, and if you feel that the organizers are negligent, do take legal advice. Also, if you are involved in organizing such activities which carry a chance of injury or death, make sure that you have made all the contestants sign a contract, which relieves you from any kind of liability or negligence.