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Below, our experienced wrongful death attorneys will discuss an assumption of risk and how it relates to wrongful death claims. If you have lost a spouse or registered domestic partner,  West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about wrongful death claims and available damages you may be entitled to.

What Is an Assumption of Risk?

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An assumption of risk is a type of defense a defendant can raise after a negligent action. This basically means that an aggrieved individual is not entitled to damages for any losses suffered when he or she willingly chose to expose themselves to a known hazard. In other words, if an individual was aware of a known danger and still took a chance anyway, they cannot sue for damages if they are hurt or killed.

This type of defense is often invoked in premises liability cases, specifically in situations that involve “enter at your own risk” or “no trespassing” signs. Other examples of cases that often invoke this type of defense include activities with waiver and release provisions, as well as extreme sports.

If a plaintiff, say a boxer, assumes the risk of being injured or killed for participating in a boxing match, then there is no legal duty owed to that person if he or she is hurt while participating in that activity. To continue with this example, boxing carries an inherent risk of suffering severe injuries and death. This is an inherent risk that is an inseparable part of boxing and cannot be reduced or eliminated.

There are two types of assumption of risk, express and implied. Express assumption of risk typically involves a signed waiver, while an implied assumption of risk is generally inferred through words and actions. An express assumption of risk is much more straightforward to prove than an implied assumption of risk.

Examples of Activities That Involve an Assumption of Risk

An assumption of risk defense is often raised in cases that involve:

  • Any activities where hazards are obvious or the nature of participating in that activity cannot be performed without a risk of being hurt.
  • Premises liability cases where clear and obvious signs are posted about the potential dangers.
  • Sports activities.
  • Extreme activities like skydiving and paragliding.
  • Waivers and release clause cases.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations for Damages in California 
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have lost a loved one because of someone’s negligence, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled attorneys that have background experience with handling cases relating to wrongful death. Our attorneys will help you get financial and emotional compensation for the losses you have suffered after losing your friend or family member. This includes, but is not limited to, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are charged until we win your case. Reach out to our friendly legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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