Assumption of Risk: Who is to Blame For Our Actions


The doctrine of "assumption of risk" clearly defines the responsibility
of all voluntary actions taken on by individuals, independent of the inherent
risk or danger involved with such actions. Are we only to assume responsibility
for the positive outcomes of our actions, without also accepting the negative
outcomes as well? Most individuals only claim responsibility in cases in which
they are fully responsible for their actions. Living within a country which
houses a large amount of private enterprise, we often find ourselves relying on
outside help. In many occasions we, the individual seeking assistance, hold the
power to choose which avenue of help will be taken. In these cases in which we
have the choice, should we not also be held responsible for the outcomes of our
decisions, especially in cases in which we have been pre-warned about any
inherent risks or dangers? For example, When we take it upon ourselves to drive
on a private road, smoke cigarettes, work for a mining company, or fly on a
discount airline at our own volition, do we tacitly consent to take
responsibility for any outcome these actions may hold? The "assumption of risk"
doctrine seems to ignore the fundamental obligation of entities to ensure their
natural goals. The distinguishing factor in deciding responsibility in
faultless cases which call on the "assumption of risk" doctrine is the control
held by individuals after the situation has begun. In accordance, companies
such as discount airlines and cigarette companies must take on the
responsibility of completing their duties, while individuals who chose to work
in a mine or drive on a private road must accept the responsibility of their
actions to do so.
All airlines hold the responsibility of transporting their customers
from a point of origin to a previously designated destination. The person who
agrees to buy a discount airline ticket, which warns to "fly at your own risk,"
is entitled to receive the minimum service of transportation provided by the
airline. The individual traveler should assume no other benefits other than
transportation. The airline company claims this act of transportation to be its
goal of services rendered. Independent of difficulties which may arise in
completing this goal, the airline may not alter the basic duty which it is
contractually obligated to perform. The airline tacitly consented to perform
this basic duty the moment they began transporting individuals for an accepted
payment. Once an individual has boarded the airplane they render all control
over their safety to the accepting airline which holds the minimum
responsibility of returning the individual back to a state of safety once their
duty is complete. The mere nature of airplane transportation forces the
individual to render total control over themselves to the airline. This
transfer of control holds the airline responsible for any action which may occur
due to the obvious lack of responsibility in the hands of the individual. Once
the plane has closed the cabin they withhold all control of an individual over
themselves, and must grant the service promised. The individual may demand the
right to existence and hold the company liable once they hold the power to
dictate all aspects of the situation.
One problem which arises within the situation is that of something
happening which the airline holds no control over. Any difficulties which arise
due to the daily routine of the airplane fall under the responsibility of the
airline. Even occurrences which are deemed unavoidable fall under the
responsibility of the airline because they hold total responsibility of their
clients once the cabin is closed. Due to the complete control the airline holds
on the situation it may be assumed that the doctrine of "assumption of risk"
applies solely to the airline. In creating a situation in which the individual
must give up his/her right to self-substinance the airline holds full
responsibility for any actions taken which may effect the safety of its
passengers. Anytime the airline engages in profit making acts, such as cutting
costs, they increase the risk upon themselves in return for extra monetary
benefits.
Some may argue that some responsibility falls on the consumer due to the
warning which the airline provided prior to the purchase of the tickets. This
argument revolves around the assumption that the individual becomes responsible
due to their decision to buy a discounted ticket over the full price. Having
been previously warned about the risk involved, the individual is expected to
relieve the airline of responsibility for any mishaps which may occur. This
idea of responsibility may hold true if, and only if, the participant holds