Americans love sports -- from basketball to football to golf, and even auto racing and rodeo riding. And although these events can be exciting while watched on television, there is no substitute for attending live sporting events. However, this thrill doesn't come without some risk. Although sporting promoters work hard to ensure that their events are both safe and fun, occasionally an injury or even death may occur. What happens if you are injured while attending a sporting event? Read on to learn more about how the law treats these situations, and what may happen to you after your sporting injury.
What injuries are typical from sporting events?
Although you may remember large or severe injuries reported in the news, such as a rogue tire flying into the stands at a stock car race, or a baseball striking a fan, most sporting injuries are much less dramatic. In many cases, these injuries are caused not by the players or the sport itself, but by rowdy fans or damaged stadium items (such as a broken seat or stair). Other injuries, such as the Indiana State Fair stage collapse, are caused by a series of events (in this case, both high and unexpected storm winds and improper scaffolding support).
What should you do if you are injured at a sporting event?
The type and source of injury suffered often controls the outcome of the situation.
- Injuries caused by the facility itself
In cases of negligence, like the Indiana State Fair case or a spectator injured by falling down a broken stair or through a flimsy seat, the facility is generally liable for any medical costs and other compensatory damages resulting from the injury. Legally, negligence cannot be waived, so even if your entry tickets contain fine print ensuring that you waive certain legal rights upon entry, the facility should still be responsible for maintaining a safe environment. However, unless the league or sporting organization whose event you're attending actually owns the facility, it is unlikely that they will bear any type of liability for these sort of injuries. Visit a site like http://www.mccreadylaw.com to get the opinion of professionals.
- Injuries caused by other spectators
Most sporting facilities and teams will carry no liability for the actions of individual rowdy fans. If you're injured (whether accidentally or intentionally) by another fan, your best chance of financial recovery is to personally sue this individual in civil court.
Unfortunately, in situations in which a mob or large crowd has formed, it can be difficult to physically pinpoint the exact person or persons who caused your injuries. In these cases, you may be able to successfully sue the facility if the structure or security of the facility helped contribute to your injuries. An example of this is if you were trampled or pushed to the ground as spectators stormed a too-small exit door, or if security personnel were ineffective in controlling a large fight.
- Injuries caused by the sport itself
If you're injured by an errant foul ball or hockey puck, your financial and physical road to recovery may be a bit more rocky. Many courts have held that, by voluntarily attending certain types of sporting events, you knowingly take on the risk of being struck by items from the playing field. The extent of this waiver can even depend on whether you have court-side or stadium-side seats (as the closer to the action you sit, the more risk of injury you bear). And although children are not legally able to consent to these types of activities, their parents or legal guardians are able to offer consent on the child's behalf.
If attending a sport with a known risk of crowd injury, play it safe. You may want to outfit your children with helmets and other protective gear if there is any chance of sitting in ball territory.