Personal Injury, Premises Liability, and Inherent Risk in Kentucky
Recently the California Supreme Court overturned an appeals court decision in a personal injury lawsuit involving an individual who was injured at an amusement park. The woman was riding on the bumper cars at Great America with her son when they were hit from the front and rear. She braced herself on the front of the car and broke her wrist. The Supreme Court ultimately decided that the amusement park was not liable for her injury because there is an inherent risk in riding bumper cars and there was no negligence.
What is inherent risk? In the context of personal injury, it means that certain activities, because of their nature, may be dangerous. Trying to remove the inherent risk from such an activity would change the activity to such a degree that its appeal may be lost. In the California case mentioned above, the woman was injured when the bumper cars collided. To remove the inherent risk, the cars would have to not hit each other or the walls of the ride, which means they would no longer be “bumper” cars. This would change the entire experience of the ride and would make it less thrilling.
Kentucky is known worldwide for its horses, and horseback riding and other agricultural activities are very popular here. In any type of activity involving animals, there is an inherent risk. Animals are living creatures and are unpredictable. The Kentucky law regarding farm animal activities states:
The inherent risks of farm animal activities are deemed to be beyond the reasonable control of farm animal activity sponsors, farm animal professionals, or other persons. Therefore, farm animal activity sponsors, farm animal professionals, or other persons are deemed to have the duty to reasonably warn participants in farm animal activities of the inherent risks of the farm animal activities but not the duty to reduce or eliminate the inherent risks of farm animal activities. Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, no participant or representative of a participant who has been reasonably warned of the inherent risks of farm animal activities shall make any claim against, maintain an action against, or recover from a farm animal activity sponsor, a farm animal professional, or any other person for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of farm animal activities.