Americans love to play sports. But each sport has certain risks of injury, and sometimes it raises legal questions as to which risks a player has assumed. For example, what risks does a golfer assume when stepping out on the course? Golf balls can become missile-like projectiles that cause serious personal injuries
A recent case in New York State raised the assumption of risk issue clearly. On December 21 2010, the New York Court of Appeals dismissed the negligence claims filed by Dr. Azad Anand after he was accidentally blinded while golfing in Long Island with a friend in October 2002. The court’s ruling affirms previous case dismissals by lower courts, primarily due to the plaintiff’s assumption of risk.
Dr. Anand, a neuroradiologist, was golfing with his friend Dr. Anoop Kapoor at Dix Hills Park Golf Course when Dr. Kapoor took a shot from the rough that sent the ball sailing towards Dr. Anand’s head while he was looking for his own ball on the fairway.
Dr. Anand claims that Dr. Kapoor had a duty to yell “Fore!” to warn him and that his injuries and the losses suffered due to his inability to work are Dr. Kapoor’s fault. Dr. Kapoor testified that he actually did yell out as soon as he realized the danger to his friend.
Steven Cohn, one of Dr. Anand’s attorneys, argued that the plaintiff was in a “foreseeable zone of danger” and the defendant should be held responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and his inability to work. The court disagreed with the plaintiff, ruling that the accident “reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf,” and that the plaintiff assumed risk of injury when he chose to participate.
Assumption of risk as exemplified by this case is defined as a plaintiff willingly and knowingly participating in a situation with associated risks of damage, injury or loss. This means that anyone who chooses to participate in a sport or activity is automatically accepting all legal responsibility for anything that may happen to them. However, if you are participating in an activity and something happens that is not ordinarily associated with the activity, you may be able to seek damages for loss or injury. This concept can make or break a personal injury lawsuit.
If you have suffered a recreational or sports injury caused by someone else’s carelessness, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights.