A plaintiff who voluntarily assumes a risk of harm cannot recover for the negligent or reckless conduct that causes the harm: that is known as assumption of risk. It is a complete defense. This lesson explores the defense, which together with contributory negligence has been part of negligence law for more than a century-and-a-half. The border between the two classic negligence defenses is sometimes confusing, so questions navigate the differences. Also, the lesson considers the continuing vitality of the defense of assumption of risk when contributory negligence is rapidly being replaced by comparative negligence.
On completion of the lesson, students will be able to:
1. Discuss the defense of assumption of risk - express and implied - in negligence actions.
2. Analyze the difference between assumption of risk and contributory negligence.
3. Explain how the switch to comparative negligence has also affected assumption of risk.