Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who tripped and fell while practicing on-stage with a church band. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the “assumption of the risk doctrine” and when it is appropriate for a court to prevent a plaintiff’s case from proceeding by determining that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved with the activity that led to his injuries.
Assumption of the Risk
In some cases in which a person is injured while engaging in an activity that he or she knew to be dangerous, courts may prevent that person from holding other parties responsible for their injuries, based on the theory that the plaintiff assumed the risk of the dangerous activity. Generally, in order to establish an assumption of the risk defense, a defendant must be able to show that the injured party knew that the activity was dangerous and willingly participated in the activity despite knowledge of the risks. Assumption of the risk defenses are common in cases involving contact sports or other high-risk activities.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a member of the defendant church and also played in the church band. One day during rehearsals, the plaintiff tripped and fell on an unsecured cord that ran across the stage to power the electric bass guitar. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the church, arguing that the church failed to safely maintain the stage area.