What Is “Assumption of Risk” in Missouri Premises Liability?

Premises liability cases involve situations where someone gets hurt due to hazardous conditions on someone else’s property. “Assumption of risk” is a legal concept that property owners often use to defend themselves in these cases. 

The term describes someone willingly entering a property and understanding the risks involved, thereby taking responsibility for any injury that might occur. For instance, let’s say you see a “wet floor” sign and choose to walk on the floor anyway. If you slipped and fell, the property owner could argue they’re not responsible because you knew the risk posed by the wet floor.

Express vs. Implied Assumption of Risk

There are two main types of assumption of risk in premises liability law: express and implied.

Express Assumption of Risk

An express assumption of risk exists when you sign a document or agree verbally to take on the risks of engaging in an activity or visiting a location. This is common at sporting events or in adventure parks, where you might sign a waiver before you enter the venue. It’s a clear, direct agreement that you understand and accept the risks involved.

Proof of express assumption of risk can provide a strong defense in a premises liability case. If you signed a waiver or an agreement, the owner will likely present this document in court. This signed waiver serves as solid proof that you agreed to take on the risks associated with the activity in question.

Implied Assumption of Risk

Conversely, an implied assumption of risk doesn’t involve signing anything or providing any verbal agreement. Engaging in a specific activity or visiting a hazardous location could show you’re accepting certain risks, whether or not there’s written proof.

In cases of implied assumption of risk, the owner might point to your actions in their defense. For example, if you go ice skating, you likely understand that you are at risk of falling or colliding with others on the ice. The property owner will emphasize that by simply engaging in the activity, you knew and accepted the risks involved.

Fighting Back Against “Assumption of Risk” Defenses

If someone tries to deny your premises liability claim by arguing that an express or implied assumption of risk existed, your lawyer could fight back by:

  • Reviewing the language of any liability waiver to determine if it is legally binding given the circumstances of your case
  • Investigating the accident to see whether you knew and accepted the specific risk that led to your injury

Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer might employ evidence such as:

  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Surveillance footage
  • Photos of the scene
  • Incident reports
  • Your medical records
  • Expert testimonies
  • Weather reports
  • Property maintenance records
  • Building inspection reports
  • Previous complaints about the location
  • Your clothing and footwear
  • Communication records regarding the hazard
  • Photos of missing, hidden, or unclear signage
  • Emergency response records
  • Published rules or guidelines for the property
Contact a Missouri Premises Liability Attorney Today

Has a property owner tried to downplay or deny your premises liability claim by saying you assumed the risk of your injuries? Then contact Hullverson Law Firm today. We understand the complexities of Missouri premises liability cases and are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.