foreseeable risk

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A foreseeable risk is when a reasonable person in a given situation should know that specific harm might occur as a result of their actions. For example, if a person buys fireworks, then handles them incorrectly, and burns their finger, this is a foreseeable risk. In negligence lawsuits, a defendant might respond to the plaintiff’s allegations with this affirmative defense. This is because a defendant is not liable for a plaintiff’s injury if the risks of the plaintiff’s actions were foreseeable. If, however, a person buys fireworks, handles them correctly, and is injured due to the manufacturer’s improper assembly of the firework, this is not considered a foreseeable risk and thus that person might recover damages. Lawsuits for risks that are not foreseeable are not barred by signs that state "use at your own risk."

[Last updated in December of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]