Spinal Cord Injury – assumption of the risk

In the state of Florida, more than 800 people are hospitalized each year because of spinal cord injuries (SCI), according to the WellFlorida Council. The most common causes of new spinal cord injuries include car accidents, acts of violence, falls and sports injuries.

In certain cases, a victim of a spinal cord injury can pursue a case for compensation against a person or a company which caused the injury to occur. However, if the person who sustained the injury was partially responsible for the accident that caused the SCI, this can either reduce recovery for damages or make it impossible to recover. When a person engages in particularly dangerous activity, for example, he may be unable to make a claim for damages for SCI due to a legal doctrine called assumption of the risk.

An example of a situation where a person assumes the risk of injury is when an individual decides to go rock climbing. The activity is inherently dangerous, a fall is likely, and the victim is assuming the risk that a spinal cord injury could potentially result from the fall.

The proprietor of the establishment with the rock climbing wall could have the climber sign a liability waiver before climbing, but even if he does not do so, the victim could still be precluded from recovering compensation for falling off the climbing wall because the victim assumed the risk of this occurring.

While the assumption of the risk doctrine can make a successful injury claim for spinal cord injury more difficult, or even impossible, a victim is not automatically unable to pursue a case every time he engages in dangerous activity.

For example, if there was a defect in the rock climbing wall that caused the fall, the victim did not assume the risk of the defect and thus the proprietor with the climbing wall could be held liable.

Florida Statute 769.04, dealing with hazardous occupations, also makes clear that the doctrine of assumption of the risk doesn’t apply if an injury or death was attributed to the negligence of an employer or agent.

A Florida spinal cord injury attorney can provide assistance to victims in determining if they can make a claim after they suffer damage to the spine or if assumption of the risk will preclude their claim.