Young people have a known proclivity for accepting seemingly unacceptable risks. Unhappily, this propensity grows in direct relationship to warnings about the risk. A tragic example of this habit was displayed on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day in Hover Park in Finley.
According to police reports, a group of young people were gathered in Hover Park when one of the group began racing his Ford F250 back and forth on Toothaker Road about 1:00 a.m. Witnesses also said that the man was spinning his tires. He asked a young woman in the group to join him in the truck. The woman’s friends were said to have urgently warned her about getting into the truck. She nevertheless ignored the warnings and climbed into the cab. The driver then sped away toward South Meals Road. The driver lost control of the truck as he spun the tires. The truck left the road, hit a ditch and rolled over. Neither the driver nor his passenger was wearing seatbelts. The woman was apparently dead at the scene, but the driver was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries.
The driver appears to have been clearly negligent: he drove at an excessive speed and ultimately lost control of his truck. Both the driver and the passenger appear to have been negligent in omitting seatbelts. The driver’s liability for the woman’s death may be tempered by the doctrine of assumption of risk. The basic form of the rule disqualifies a person from recovering damages if the person has knowingly and voluntarily exposed him or herself to the danger that caused the injuries. The rule has many exceptions, but the woman who died in this incident appears to have had adequate knowledge of the driver’s lack of concern for road safety.
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident where assumption of risk is an issue may benefit from consulting a knowledgeable accident attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and an opinion of whether the facts will support a judgment for damages for medical expenses, lost income, disability and pain and suffering.