When someone is injured while engaging in an activity that they know to be dangerous, sometimes courts will prevent that person from holding other potentially negligent parties liable, based on the doctrine of assumption of the risk. In order for a court to find that a plaintiff assumed the risk of a dangerous activity, the burden is on the defendant to prove that the plaintiff knew of the dangers involved with the activity and willingly decided to proceed, notwithstanding those dangers.
In Florida, courts have limited the application of the assumption of the risk doctrine. Rather than preventing a plaintiff from proceeding with their lawsuit at the outset, Florida courts allow for the jury to factor in the plaintiff’s potential assumption of the risks involved when determining whether the plaintiff was at fault for the accident resulting in his injuries through the doctrine of comparative negligence.
The doctrine of comparative negligence allows for a jury to determine the plaintiff’s own percentage of fault in the accident giving rise to his injuries and then reduce the plaintiff’s total recovery amount by that percent. For example, if a plaintiff was determined to have sustained $5 million in damages but was also found to be 10% responsible for the accident, the plaintiff’s award would be $4.5 million. A recent case illustrates how Florida courts handle a defendant’s claim that the plaintiff assumed the risk of a certain activity.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a member of a church band who slipped and fell one day while rehearsing on stage. The plaintiff slipped on an unsecured electrical cord that ran across the stage. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the church.
The church argued that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved with performing on stage. The church claimed that the plaintiff knew about the risks involved in performing on stage because he had been performing with the church band for two years prior to the accident. The lower court agreed with the church and dismissed the case. The plaintiff then appealed.
On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, clarifying its position in regard to express assumption of the risk. The court explained that in Florida, express assumption of the risk only applies in two circumstances, neither of which was present in this case. The first is when a party agrees not to sue by signing a contract. The second is when the injury is caused through participation in contact sports. Otherwise, any assumption of the risk analysis must be made by the jury and factored into the comparative fault analysis.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may receive compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident. The skilled injury attorneys at the law firm of Frankl & Kominsky have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury matters, including slip-and-fall cases. Call 855-800-8000 to schedule a free consultation today.
See Additional Blog Posts:
Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Expert Witness Creates Material Issue That Court Holds Must Be Resolved by a Jury, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, April 12, 2017.
Florida Teen Killed in Drunk Driving Accident, Four Others Injured, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, May 10, 2017.