Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a wrongful death case that illustrates an important issue that often arises in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. Specifically, the case discussed the doctrine of “assumption of the risk” and how it can prevent a plaintiff from recovering compensation for their injuries.
The plaintiff was the surviving loved one of a farm worker who died after a tractor tire fell on top of him as he was attempting to remove the tire on his own. Prior to the accident that claimed the worker’s life, he was asked to remove the tire by his employer, the farmer. The farmer specifically told the worker, however, not to remove the tire on his own.
After the accident, the worker’s family filed a wrongful death case against the farmer, claiming that the farmer did not provide the worker with the proper tools and created an unreasonably dangerous situation. The farmer argued that the worker assumed the risks involved in changing the tire by proceeding to do it by himself. The court agreed, dismissing the plaintiff’s case.
Washington, D.C. and Contributory Negligence
In Washington, D.C., the assumption of the risk doctrine does not apply exactly as it did in the case discussed above. However, a similar doctrine called “contributory negligence” applies in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff cannot recover damages for their injuries if they are at all at fault in bringing about the accident that caused the injuries. This applies even if the plaintiff is found to be only 1% at fault.
While contributory negligence and assumption of the risk are related in that they both can act to preclude a plaintiff’s recovery, they are not exactly the same. For example, if a plaintiff voluntarily and reasonably assumes the risk of an activity, he may be precluded from recovery under an assumption-of-the-risk analysis. However, if the plaintiff’s decision to proceed with the activity despite knowing the risks involved is later determined not to have been a negligent decision, the plaintiff would not be precluded from recovery under a contributory negligence analysis.
Have You Been Involved in a Washington, D.C. Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Washington, D.C. accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The dedicated team of Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC has extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated personal injury lawyer about your case, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Dismissed for Failure to Establish the Defendant Landowner Knew of the Hazard that Caused Her Fall, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 23, 2017
Court Finds Church Does Not Have Duty to Assist Parishioners from Parking Lot into Church, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 4, 2017