Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > Is “Assumption of Risk” a Valid Defense to an Intentional Tort in Georgia?

Is “Assumption of Risk” a Valid Defense to an Intentional Tort in Georgia?


In Georgia personal injury cases, defendants will sometimes use the affirmative defense of “assumption of risk” to try and defeat a plaintiff’s claims of negligence. Basically, the assumption of risk doctrine holds that a plaintiff cannot receive compensation for injuries arising from an activity where they knowingly and voluntarily accepted the risk of injury. In other words, if you choose to engage in a dangerous activity and get hurt, you cannot blame anyone else for your injuries but yourself.

Georgia Courts Sort Out Aftermath of Alabama-Florida State Fan Altercation

Georgia courts have made it clear, however, that assumption of risk only applies to personal injury claims based on negligence. It does not protect a defendant who engaged in an intentional tort.

Consider this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Soundara v. Kraver. This case arose from an altercation that took place during a 2017 college football game between Florida State University and the University of Alabama, which was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The plaintiff was a Florida State fan sitting in a section of the stadium with other Seminole fans. The defendants were Crimson Tide fans who had mistakenly bought seats near the plaintiff in the Florida State section.

During the game, the defendants got into a fight with some other fans in the Florida State section. The plaintiff was not present for the altercation, having left to use the restroom. Stadium employees initially removed the defendants to the concourse area. But the defendants later returned to the seating area. Sometime later, what court records described as a “melee” broke out in a stadium tunnel. During this altercation, the plaintiff walked up to one of the fighters and was knocked down. She then got up and ran back towards the melee, striking people with her shoe. She later stated she was trying to break up the fight.

The plaintiff subsequently filed personal injury lawsuits against a number of parties, including the Alabama fans and the companies responsible for operating the stadium and providing its security. A Georgia trial court granted summary judgment to all defendants and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals, however, partially reversed that decision and held the plaintiff could proceed with her claims against the Alabama fans.

The appellate court explained that the plaintiff alleged the Alabama fans committed “civil assault and battery” against her. Those are intentional torts. The defense’s motion for summary judgment before the trial court was based on an assumption of risk defense. But the Court of Appeals noted that was not a valid defense to an intentional tort. On the other hand, the plaintiff’s claims against the stadium defendants were based on negligence, and there the Court of Appeals concluded the trial court properly dismissed those claims based on the plaintiff’s assumption of risk in deciding to participate in the “melee.”

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

If you have been harmed due to someone else’s negligent or intentional actions, it is best to speak with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn