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Personal Injury Law in Georgia: What is Assumption of Risk?

Following a serious accident, injured victims need financial relief to pay for medical care, cover lost wages, and to support their loved ones. By bringing a personal injury claim, you can hold the at-fault party liable for an accident. That being said, navigating the personal injury claims process can be challenging. You need to be ready for insurers/defendants to raise defenses against liability. 

Assumption of risk is an example of legal defense in a personal injury case. In effect, it holds that the defendant is not liable because the victim knew and accepted the underlying risk associated with a particular activity. In this article, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers explain the key things to know about the assumption of risk doctrine and personal injury claims in Georgia. 

Assumption of Risk: Defined

Assumption of risk is a long-standing legal doctrine that can be raised as a defense against liability in certain types of personal injury claims. The general concept is relatively straightforward: A defendant raising a defense on the grounds of assumption of risk is arguing that they are not liable for the victim’s injuries because the victim voluntarily engaged in an inherently risky activity. In other words, the victim “assumed” any risk and is then responsible for their own injuries.   

Understanding Assumption of Risk through Georgia Case Law

A recent Georgia Supreme Court decision provides an illustrative example of how the assumption of risk doctrine applies in a real-world situation. In the 2020 case of Daly v. Berryhill, Georgia’s highest court ruled against a plaintiff in an assumption of risk case. As part of its decision, the Georgia Supreme Court clearly articulated the three elements of the assumption of risk doctrine. For a defendant to successfully raise assumption of risk as an affirmative defense in a personal injury case, they must prove the following three things: 

  1. The victim had actual knowledge of a specific danger; 
  2. The victim understood and appreciated the extent of the risk; and
  3. The victim voluntarily exposed themselves to those risks. 

Defendants and insurers may try to raise the assumption of risk doctrine in a wide range of different cases where it is not truly applicable. In Georgia, an injured victim cannot have assumed the risk if they lacked knowledge of the danger, did not truly understand the risk or did not voluntarily expose themself to the risk. If the assumption of risk is an issue in your case, an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights. 

Call Our Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Today

At Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers are skilled, reliable advocates for our clients. If you have any questions about the assumption of risk doctrine and personal injury claims in Georgia, we are here to get you answers. Call us at (404) 529-3476 or send us a direct message to arrange your no-cost, no-obligation initial case evaluation. We represent injured victims in Atlanta, Marietta, Norcross, Douglasville, and Stone Mountain.

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