In Maryland, in order to establish the defense of assumption of risk, the defendant must show that the plaintiff: (1) had knowledge of the risk of the danger; (2) appreciated that risk; and (3) voluntarily confronted the risk of danger.
Appellant individual (Boddie) negligently started a fire in a frying pan in her kitchen. She called to appellee visitor (Scott), who was in her home on an unrelated matter, to help her extinguish the fire. Appellee successfully put the fire out by throwing the flaming frying pan out the front door, but in doing so, severely burned his hands. A jury found that appellant was liable for the injury appellee received. Appellant challenged the judgment, contending that appellee was barred from recovery by the doctrine of assumption of the risk.
Is the defense of assumption of risk available when a plaintiff is injured while attempting to save property from a peril created by the defendant's negligence?
The court held that the doctrine of assumption of risk was unavailable when a person was injured in attempting to save property from a peril created by the negligence of another, so long as the person acted reasonably under the circumstances. Appellee's choice was not voluntary as a matter of law because the alternative course of conduct was one which he could not reasonably be required to accept (i.e. the house burning down). When appellee decided to pick up the frying pan and take it outside, he was attempting to rescue appellant's property. The court rejected appellant's argument that appellee assumed the risk of injury when he put out the fire that she negligently started, because the doctrine of assumption of risk was inapplicable. The court found that appellee tried to avert harm caused by appellant's negligence and acted reasonably under the circumstances. Accordingly, the court AFFIRMED the judgment against appellant individual in appellee visitor's action for negligence,