“Assumption of the Risk Doctrine” Prevents Wrongful Death Case from Proceeding

Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion holding that a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a young man killed while skateboarding was properly dismissed below because the young boy assumed the risk of the dangerous activity in which he was engaging when he suffered his fatal injury. In the case, Bertsch v. Mammoth Community Water District, the court’s decision will prevent the boy’s father from receiving compensation for the loss of his son.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his two sons were staying at a friend’s condo in Mammoth County, California. The two boys were skateboarding around the neighborhood before meeting up with their father to go rock climbing. Along the way, the boys pushed their way up a hill so that they could enjoy the long and fast ride down. However, on the way down the hill, one of the boys’ boards hit a lip surrounding a manhole cover, and he was thrown from the board. He was not wearing a helmet. When he struck the ground, he hit his head, causing him to suffer a traumatic brain injury. He later died from the injuries he sustained.

The boys’ father filed a lawsuit against several parties, including the local government and the water company that installed the manhole cover, seeking compensation for the loss of his son. The father claimed that the manhole cover was dangerous and that it was negligent for the government to fail to fix the hazard.

At Trial, the Case Is Dismissed

The court hearing the case dismissed it, based on the boy’s “assumption of the risk.” Assumption of the risk is a legal doctrine that acts to hold defendant landowners free from liability when someone is injured on their land while engaging in a dangerous sport or sport-like activity.

The boys’ father argued that skateboarding is less of a dangerous sport and more of a means of transportation. Indeed, he cited to several cases failing to apply the doctrine to a bicyclist. However, the court ultimately determined that the doctrine should apply because the boy was seeking out a thrill by pushing himself up a hill to enjoy the fast ride down. As a result of the court’s decision, the boys’ family will not be entitled to compensation for their loss.

Have You Been Injured While Engaging in a Dangerous Activity?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while engaging in an activity such as skateboarding, sky-diving, bungee jumping, or river rafting, you may still be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. The case discussed above is specific to the facts presented, and under other situations, a court may rule differently. To speak with a dedicated wrongful death attorney about your case, call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation. The skilled advocates at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have decades of experience handling all kinds of personal injury cases. Call today to set up your free consultation or contact us through our online form.

Related Posts:

Appellate Court Determines When Evidence of a Party’s Lack of Insurance is Admissible at Trial, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, May 2, 2016

Girl Struck by Car While Boarding School Bus Seeks Recovery from Bus Driver’s Insurance Company, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2016

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