Assumption of risk exception to premises liability

West Virginia property owners generally have a legal responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment for visitors and patrons. Someone hurt in a slip and fall or similar accident, however, might encounter difficulty collecting compensation for the injuries if a court finds that the person knowingly assumed the risk of a recognizably dangerous activity.

This exception to premises liability occasionally spares property owners from paying damages. For example, a court sided with the defendant in a case that pitted a concert venue against a concert attendee. The man who attended a hardcore rock concert was injured when another person kicked his left leg. The man had been standing in front of the mosh pit where people dance erratically and jump on each other. He blamed the concert venue for his injury, but his testimony about participating in mosh pits at other concerts proved to the court that he was well aware of the risks.

Similarly, a woman who danced on a bar top and fell failed to win her case against the owner because she said that she had gotten on top of the bar voluntarily and understood that she might fall. In that case, the court decided that she had knowingly assumed the risks of dancing in an elevated area.

Although the assumption of risk doctrine exists, most cases assign liability to the property owner. Someone hurt while visiting a property could obtain more information from an attorney about how to possibly recover damages. An attorney could review the circumstances of the injury to see if elements such as defective design, inadequate lighting or a wet floor caused the accident.

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