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Kansas Law BlogLegal updates, news, and commentary from the attorneys of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC

Kansas abolishes assumption of the risk defense.

April 21, 2014 | Bryan Mouber

Plaintiff Adam Simmons was seriously injured in a gasoline fire while at work. He sued his employer for negligently failing to provide him with a reasonably safe workplace. The district court denied his claim based on the common-law assumption of risk doctrine, which can bar recovery when an employee who knows of a dangerous situation voluntarily exposes himself or herself to that danger. The Court of Appeals affirmed, based on then existing precedent. Simmons appealed the denial to the Kansas Supreme Court, and argued Kansas should abandon the court-made doctrine of assumption of the risk in favor of the Kansas state's statutory comparative fault system in which any alleged assumption of risk would be considered as just one factor when determining proportionality of fault based on the circumstances.  K.S.A. §60-258a.

In doing so, the Kansas Supreme Court examined and explicitly overruled three previous Kansas Supreme Court holdings, cases, which had applied the doctrine in conjunction with comparative fault. The Court also examined and was persuaded by decisions from other jurisdictions that had eliminated assumption of risk after comparative fault was adopted.

The full opinion of the case may be found online here.

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About Kansas Law Blog

The BSCR Kansas Law Blog examines significant developments, trends and changes in Kansas law on a broad range of topics that are of interest to Kansas practitioners and to businesses evaluating risks under Kansas law or managing litigation subject to Kansas law. Learn more about the editor, Bryan Mouber.

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