Assumption of the Risk in Washington, D.C. Sports Injury Cases

Most Washington, D.C. personal injury cases are based on the theory of negligence. In Washington, D.C., there are two primary defenses to personal injury lawsuits: contributory negligence and assumption of the risk. As we have discussed at length in other posts, contributory negligence refers to an injury victim’s shared responsibility in bringing about their own injuries. Under Washington, D.C. personal injury law, if a plaintiff is contributorily negligent, they are precluded from recovering for their injuries.

The assumption of risk is a different, but related concept. Under an assumption of the risk defense, a defendant is claiming that the plaintiff voluntarily entered into a situation with full knowledge and appreciation of the risks involved. In these situations, while a plaintiff’s actions may not have contributed to their injuries, their acceptance of the risks involved with a particular activity prevent them from holding others responsible for their injuries. The doctrine of assumption of the risk only rarely applies to Washington, D.C. car accident cases. That said, it is much more common in premises liability cases and sports injury cases.

A recent state appellate opinion discusses the concept of assumption of the risk as it relates to skiing.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was a ski instructor. The plaintiff was instructing a young child in an area marked “slow skiing” when the defendant snowboarder went off a jump and landed on the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the defendant.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff should not be permitted to pursue her claim because she knowingly assumed the risks involved in the sport of skiing. The trial court agreed with the defendant, and the plaintiff successfully had that court’s decision reversed on appeal. The defendant then appealed the case to the state’s supreme court.

The Court’s Decision

The court explained that the plaintiff did not assume the risk of being landed on by another skier or snowboarder, and that her case should not have been dismissed. The court explained that the assumption of the risk doctrine should only be applied in situations where the risk involved is “inherent” in the sport.

Here, the court determined that collisions were not an inherent part of skiing. The court reasoned that collisions between skiers are somewhat uncommon, and that common sense can help reduce collisions. The noted that if it were to hold that a skier assumes all risks, such a holding would benefit reckless and negligent skiers by absolving them of responsibility when these skiers should be encouraged to enjoy the sport safely.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Sports Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. sports accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the type of accident, as well as the extent of your injuries, there may be multiple parties who are liable for your injuries. At the Washington, D.C. personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we have decades of experience helping our clients successfully pursue claims arising out of a wide variety of accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim against a Negligent Washington, D.C. Employer, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 5, 2019

Texting While Driving Is a Major Cause of Washington, D.C. Car Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 24, 2019

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