Accidents and injuries are part of life, and they can come upon us at the most inopportune times. One minute you can be driving down the road, and then the next you are in an accident, suffering because some other person did not follow the rules of the road. Of course, these are the risks we take to get to where we want to be. We move at high rates of speeds and reap the rewards, while at the same time taking on the risks that come with it. Fortunately for us, there are laws to protect us once we are in an accident, but those laws can be troublesome for some in certain circumstances. If you have been injured in an accident, contact an Atlanta personal injury lawyer for assistance today.
What is Assumption of Risk?
Assumption of the risk is a fairly common legal doctrine that is meant to help defendants avoid paying for an accident for which they may not be liable. The name of the doctrine may seem self-explanatory, but it is a bit more complex than the name suggests, as any Atlanta personal injury lawyer will tell you.
For legal purposes, assumption of the risk is a defense to a personal injury lawsuit. When employed in a lawsuit, the defendant is saying that he or she is not responsible for the injuries incurred during an accident because the person injured knew about the risks presented, and took those risks anyway.
This is a simple explanation of a complex legal doctrine. In fact, assumption of the risk requires much more than knowing about the risks present in a particular situation. That is why talking with a personal injury attorney in Atlanta about this and other legal questions is so important.
Assumption of Risk: What it is Not
Many times defendants will use this defense in a desperate attempt to be relieved of responsibility for an accident they caused. When we talk about assumption of the risk, we are not talking about the general risks that come with living a daily life in a world full of friction, gravity, and human interactions. Assumption of the risk is much more detailed under the law.
For a defendant to successfully defend a lawsuit using assumption of the risk, he or she must show that the injured person actually knew about the risk and encountered it anyway. This means that there must have been an actual risk, that the injured person actually knew about it, and then engaged the risky behavior while knowing about the dangers.
To illustrate this point, there was a case decided by the Georgia Supreme Court on assumption of the risk in 1996. In that case, Vaughn v. Pleasant, a police officer struck a left turning truck pulling a trailer, the driver of which failed to use his trailer lights. The officer was killed in the accident, and his family sued the driver and insurance company for negligence. The defense argued that speeding through an intersection was risky behavior, and that the officer knew about those risks, yet acted anyway.
Yes, the Court agreed, the officer knew about the general risks of his job, but did not actually know that this driver did not have his turn signals and was not going to pull over for a police officer when he should have, and as a result, the defense of assumption of the risk failed.
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