- Assumption of risk
Assumption of risk is a defense in the
lawof torts, which bars a plaintifffrom recovery against a negligent tortfeasorif the defendantcan demonstrate that the plaintiff voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risks at issue inherent to the dangerous activity in which he was participating at the time of his injury.
What is usually meant by assumption of risk is more precisely termed "primary" assumption of risk. It occurs when the plaintiff has either expressly or impliedly relieved the defendant of the
dutyto mitigate or relieve the risk causing the injury from which the cause of action arises. It operates as a complete bar to liability on the theory that upon assumption of the risk, there is no longer a duty of carerunning from the defendant to the plaintiff; without a duty owed by the defendant, there can be no negligence on his part. ["Knight v. Jewett", [http://online.ceb.com/CalCases/C4/3C4t296.htm 3 Cal. 4th 296] , 314-315 (1992).] However, primary assumption of risk is not a blanket exemption from liability for the operators of a dangerous activity. The "specific" risk causing the injury must have been known to, and appreciated by, the plaintiff in order for primary assumption of risk to apply. Also, assumption of risk does not absolve a defendant of liability for reckless conduct. ["Cheong v. Antablin", [http://online.ceb.com/CalCases/C4/16C4t1063.htm 16 Cal. 4th 1067] (1997).]
This defense is commonly used in cases of injuries occurring during risky recreational activities, such as skiing, paragliding, and scuba diving.
"Secondary" assumption of risk is a rather different doctrine akin in some respects to
comparative negligence. The difference was explained by the Supreme Court of California as follows:
Volenti non fit injuria"
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