Assumption of Risk in Pennsylvania

August 9, 2019

Assumption of risk is a common defense utilized by defendants in the slip and fall injury context and in many other personal injury disputes.  Essentially, the defendant is arguing that the plaintiff cannot hold them liable due to having knowingly and willfully accepted the risk of harm associated with an activity.

Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding the General Principles

In Pennsylvania, a case can be dismissed entirely if the court finds that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury.  Whether the plaintiff assumed the risk is ultimately a question of whether the plaintiff knew about the risk (and chose to accept that risk).

Without evidence of actual knowledge, the court may evaluate the obviousness of the dangerous condition or activity involved.  In doing so, the court will compare your actions to that of a reasonable person who is similarly situated to you.  For example, if you choose to jump off a cliff into the murky water below, then that is a fundamentally dangerous situation (you don’t know if your trajectory will put you far enough away from the cliff, and there may be rocks hidden in the water) — it’s fair to say that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would not jump off the cliff.  Thus, the court would find that the dangerous condition was obvious and that you willfully assumed the risk of injury by jumping.

Assumption of Risk as it Pertains to Slip and Fall Cases

Slip and fall cases frequently involve a specific expression of these more general assumptions of risk principles.  Simply put, slip and fall plaintiffs are precluded from recovery if the danger (i.e., the slipping hazard at issue) was either known or “open and obvious” to the plaintiff at the time that they injured themselves.

For example, if you slip and fall on a thin patch of water in a poorly-lit room, then chances are that the hazard was not open and obvious.  On the other hand, if you slip and fall on a large patch of bright red juice in a well-lit supermarket, then the assumption of risk defense (here premised on the open and obvious slipping danger) will likely apply.

Contact an Allentown Slip and Fall Lawyer at DHD Law for Guidance

Have you been harmed due to the fault of another?  Pennsylvania law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries.

We can help.

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience advocating on behalf of injured plaintiffs in a range of cases, from product defect disputes to slip and fall disputes.  In some cases — particularly slip and fall litigation — the defendants are likely to argue that you “assumed the risk” of obvious danger.  We understand how frustrating and challenging such disputes can be.  Our long and successful history of trial litigation has given us the ability to identify weaknesses in the defendant’s arguments and to put pressure on them to resolve the case in a manner more favorable to your interests.

Complete an online intake form through our website to schedule a free initial consultation with a seasoned Allentown slip and fall lawyer at DHD Law today.  We are standing by to provide assistance.