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What to Know About Sports Injuries and Assumption of Risk

Were you injured while playing recreational sports in California? If so, you may be wondering if it is possible to recover financial compensation through a personal injury claim. The answer depends on a number of factors including how and why you were injured. While it is possible to win a personal injury lawsuit for a recreational sports injury, a legal principle called the assumption of risk makes it more challenging to do so. In this article, our Stockton personal injury attorney discusses the doctrine of assumption of risk. 

Sports Injuries are Relatively Common

Recreational sports remain one of the leading causes of injuries. Millions of people nationwide are hurt playing sports each year. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that 3.5 million children and teenagers are hurt while playing sports each year. Thankfully, a significant share of these sports injuries is relatively minor. Still, severe, even catastrophic sports injuries are a major concern.  

Assumption of Risk: Defined

Sports injury cases are complicated because of a legal doctrine known as ‘assumption of risk.’ Whether or not you signed a waiver to participate in an organized or recreational sport, the assumption of risk principle can still apply. As defined by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, the legal principle of assumption of risk holds that people who voluntarily participate in certain activities “take the risk of injury onto themselves and absolve potential defendants from any liability.” That is not to say that people who play sports take every possible risk onto themselves—but they do take on certain inherent risks associated with the activity 

Sports Injuries and Assumption of Risk: An Example

To best understand how the legal principle of assumption of risk applies to sports injury cases in California, it is useful to consider a hypothetical example. Imagine that a 30-year-old resident of Stockton, CA joined an organized adult basketball league. As basketball carries certain inherent injury risks, the Stockton man would “assume” those risks through his voluntary participation.

In the first game, the man suffers a serious fall. He is later diagnosed with a severe knee injury that requires surgery and long-term recovery. Could the man hold the league or the property owner liable for his sports injury? 

It would depend on what happened, but doing so is generally quite challenging. If the adult man was injured because he stepped on another player’s foot, he would likely have no viable claim. 

However, if the man was injured because the indoor court the league selected had a loose floorboard, that may be a different story. While the risk of falling is an assumed risk in basketball, the risk of falling because of a proper defect is not necessarily covered by the assumption of risk doctrine. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney in Stockton 

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we are a local law firm that gets big results for injured victims and their families. Our attorneys have secured more than $25 million in financial compensation for clients. Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation initial appointment with a lawyer. We provide results-focused personal injury representation in Stockton and throughout San Joaquin County.