Liability in Florida Sports Injury Cases

Nobody plays a sport with the intention of getting hurt, yet each year there are thousands of Florida sports injuries. Most are minor, but some can be quite serious. As a general matter, anyone who is injured while playing a sport can pursue a claim for compensation against the parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries. However, it is important for Florida sports accident victims to understand the doctrine of assumption of the risk.

The Assumption of the Risk

Most sports present some risk of injury. Under the assumption of the risk doctrine, plaintiffs who willingly take on known risks and participate in sporting events may be partially liable for any injuries they sustain. In Florida, this is called implied assumption of the risk.

In Florida, there is also the doctrine of express assumption of the risk, which can completely preclude an accident victim from recovering for their injuries. However, Florida courts limit the application of express assumption of the risk to cases involving express agreements not to sue and cases involving contact sports. A recent state appellate opinion discusses assumption of the risk in the context of a skiing accident. While the case arose in another jurisdiction, the court’s reasoning is illustrative of why express assumption of the risk is rare in Florida sports injury cases.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured on a ski run when the defendant, who was performing an aerial trick, landed near the plaintiff and struck her. At the time, the plaintiff was giving a ski lesson to a child, and the two were within an area marked as a “slow skiing” area.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that he was negligent in riding down the mountain so fast and performing the trick in a slow-skiing area. The defendant responded by claiming that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because she willingly assumed all risks involved with skiing. The court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

On appeal, the plaintiff was successful in reversing the lower court’s decision. The appellate court held that the plaintiff’s assumption of risk, if any, should be assessed in the context of the comparative fault analysis, rather than act as a complete bar to her recovery. The court reasoned that crashes between skiers are not so frequent as to be considered an inherent part of the sport. The court explained that primary, or express, assumption of the risk should be limited in its application to situations where the doctrine would have a meaningful impact on the safety of the sport by discouraging participants from taking on unnecessary risks. Here, the court was unconvinced that barring the plaintiff’s ability to recover would result in fewer skiing accidents.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Sports Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida sports accident, the dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at Friedman Rodman & Frank can help. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we have a decades-long history providing superior representation to accident victims and their families across all areas of Florida personal injury law. We also offer free consultations to accident victims. To learn more, and to schedule your consultation today, call 877-448-8585.

More Blog Posts:

Establishing Liability in Florida Swimming Pool Accidents, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 25, 2019.

Can a Court Exclude Relevant Evidence from a Florida Personal Injury Trial?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 7, 2019.

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