What You Should Know About Assumption of Risk in Your Personal Injury Case

Personal injury lawsuits can become more complex when parties argue about negligence and fault. In some cases, you may hear your attorney or the opposing party mention “assumption of risk.”

Knowing what this concept means and how it’s applied to a case is important if you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in Washington or Oregon.

Assumption of Risk Defined

Assumption of risk means that the injured party knew their behavior was risky, exposed themselves to it anyway, and sustained an injury as a result.

When a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit applies the assumption of risk to their argument, they try to prove that the plaintiff acted with negligence as a way to minimize their responsibility.

How Assumption of Risk Is Determined

If the defense can reasonably prove the following points, then the assumption of risk may be applied to a case:

  • The injured party was aware of the risks involved
  • The injured party voluntarily and knowingly engaged in behavior, conduct, or actions that resulted in their injury

In Washington state, the assumption of risk is divided into four subcategories, each of them corresponding to the unique circumstances behind the personal injury claim. The risk subcategories are:

  1. Express
  2. Implied Primary
  3. Implied Unreasonable
  4. Implied Reasonable

Below, you will find an explanation of each subcategory that makes up the assumption of risk.


Express assumption of risk is when an injured party consents to engage in risky behavior, knowing injury is possible, and becomes injured as a result.

Implied Primary

Implied primary assumption of risk is when the injured party willfully participates in conduct that the law determines to be potentially dangerous, regardless of the individual’s decision-making.

Implied Unreasonable

Implied unreasonable assumption of risk is determined whenever a plaintiff unreasonably engages in behavior that results in an accident or injury. This is often paired with contributory negligence. In other words, the plaintiff acted unreasonably and sustained an injury.

Implied Reasonable

Implied reasonable assumption of risk is when an injured party acted reasonably but was nevertheless injured as a result of their actions. This negligence can be attributed to one or both parties.

What to Do If You’ve Been Injured

Personal injury claims have many moving parts. Negligence, fault, and risk can be gray areas that require an experienced attorney to build a strong case.

If you’ve been injured, contact Harlan Law. Our seasoned personal injury attorneys will fight hard for your rightful compensation.