D.C. District Court Ruling Upholds Assumption of Risk Defense to In-Home Construction Accident Lawsuit
A recent District of Columbia federal district court case, Bell v. BUILDERS, Dist. Ct., Dist. Col. (2013), gives a helpful overview of the concept of Assumption of Risk as it relates to personal injury claims.
Construction had begun in February of 2009, and plaintiff elected to remain in her house during the construction. One morning in May of 2009, the plaintiff went down stairs in order to investigate a loud sound she had heard. She turned on the lights and walked through her kitchen to look out the sliding glass door into her backyard. Seeing several possums in the backyard, she decided to retrieve her camera from the living room to take some pictures. When she returned with her camera and opened the sliding glass door, she leaned out to take a picture of the animals, when her left ankle became twisted up in the drop cloth on the floor, causing her to fall out the door, and to suffer, "severe, painful, and permanent injuries."
The plaintiff's lawsuit stemmed from her assertion that by covering her kitchen floor with a drop cloth, the defendant construction company created a "dangerous and defective condition" that caused her to slip and fall and sustain her injuries. The defendants motioned for summary judgment, asserting the defenses of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk.