“Assumption of the Risk” in Virginia Personal Injury Cases

In most cases in which a party is injured due to the negligence of someone else, the injured party can hold the person or entity responsible for their injuries accountable through a Virginia personal injury lawsuit. However, in some cases, a plaintiff may be prevented from recovering for their injuries even if the defendant was negligent. The doctrine of assumption of the risk is just one example.

Assumption of the Risk

The doctrine of assumption of the risk can be used by the defendant as an affirmative defense in some personal injury cases. Essentially, the doctrine prevents a plaintiff from recovering compensation for his injuries when the defendant can prove that the plaintiff was aware of the risks involved in participating in the activity and took on those risks voluntarily. A recent case illustrates how courts apply the assumption of the risk doctrine.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was participating in a horse racing event with approximately 50 other riders when she was injured by the defendant’s horse. Specifically, the plaintiff had dismounted from her horse and was in the process of picking up relay cards related to the day’s race when the defendant’s horse bumped into the rear of another horse, who then kicked another horse, resulting in several horses running out of control. The plaintiff was struck by one of these horses while she was on foot.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the defendant’s negligence resulted in the accident that caused her injuries. The defendant argued that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved with horseback riding and that he should not be held liable as a matter of law. The plaintiff argued that horseback riding is not a “contact sport” and does normally carry a risk of this type of injury.

The court agreed with the defendant. The court explained that in general, parties have a duty to take care in regard to the safety of others; however, in a situation in which there is a danger inherent in an activity that is known to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff participates in the activity with full knowledge of the danger, the plaintiff should be prevented from holding another party responsible for her injuries. Here, the court viewed a video of the race and determined that the race was akin to a contact sport that did present inherent risks. The court noted that the plaintiff’s own horse was “tailgating” other horses on numerous occasions and that this type of injury should have been foreseen. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Virginia law applies both the assumption of the risk doctrine as well as the doctrine of contributory negligence. Either of these doctrines, if applied by the court, may result in your claim being dismissed. The skilled Virginia personal injury attorneys at The Schupak Law Firm have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including those in which the named defendant alleges our client was responsible for their own injuries. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

Summary Judgment in Virginia Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2017.

NFL Brain Injury Update: CTE More Common than Originally Thoughts, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 8, 2017.

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