Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Did an Injured Photographer Assume Risk of Hammer Throw Injury?

Posted Friday, November 10, 2017 by Chris Thayer

The law holds people civilly accountable if their negligent actions cause or contribute to another person’s injuries. However, the law also provides certain defenses that might prevent injured persons from recovering the compensation to which they would otherwise be entitled.

Photographer Injured During Hammer Throw Competition

There is an event during a track and field competition called the hammer throw. It involves throwing a “hammer,” which is nothing like the tool also called by that name. The throw hammer consists of a metal ball attached to a grip by a steel wire. It is dangerous to stand in the hammer’s path when the athletes throw it.

A photographer learned that lesson the hard way in 2015. Ronald Swords suffered a serious injury when the metal ball and chain struck his leg during a collegiate competition at Eastern Washington University. The hammer event was lined with flags, and Swords was standing just outside these boundaries photographing an athlete from Montana when the accident happened. He did not see the hammer’s path and therefore was not able to get out of the way.

Swords recently filed a lawsuit against Eastern Washington University, seeking compensation for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of earning capacity. Because the hammer throw is an inherently dangerous activity, can the school successfully argue that Swords assumed the risk of injury by photographing the event?

What is Assumption of Risk?

Generally, “assumption of risk” means that when someone voluntarily participates in an activity with known, inherent risks, that person cannot sue for injuries sustained by participating in that activity unless the injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence and not the activity itself. For example, if you break a leg while playing college football, you probably cannot sue the school for damages because you knew the risks involved. However, if you can prove that your injury was actually caused by the school’s negligence (like improper field maintenance), you might have a case.

“Assumption of risk” is a controversial defense and is not always applicable. In fact, Washington law’s definition of “fault” includes “unreasonable assumption of risk,” which means that certain parties cannot escape legal liability by claiming that a particular injury was not their fault because the injured person knew about the risk involved.

Eastern Washington University could argue that Swords cannot sue for damages because he knew that the hammer throw is dangerous and that the hammer’s path is often unpredictable, and that he voluntarily impeded his vision by photographing the competition. But an experienced attorney could argue that “assumption of risk” is not applicable to the photographer’s situation.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you have been injured in any kind of accident. Our experienced attorneys will help you recover compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. We know how to combat an assumption of risk defense and any other tactics that the negligent party may employ to avoid paying damages.