Who Is Responsible for Injuries at Sporting Events?
Watching a sporting event in person is, essentially, a time-honored tradition almost anywhere in the world. Hosting thousands of people at an arena is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, though, and many teams, and the owners of the arena, take every precaution possible to ensure that each spectator can enjoy the sporting event without fear of injury. And, the vast majority of spectators do, in fact, return to their lives injury free. However, in some cases, injuries do happen at sporting events, and retaining the services of an attorney experienced in serious injuries or premises liability can be crucial to recovering the costs involved with an injury. A man recently filed suit against the Miami Dolphins after a marble slab fell on his foot, necessitating reconstructive surgery after the slab’s fall caused an amputation of one of his toes. A discussion of the legal theory surrounding liability at sporting events, as well as the primary types of injuries that can affect spectators at a sporting event, will follow below.
Serious Injury and Premises Liability
Both serious injuries and premises liability rely on the legal theory of negligence for an injured spectator to recover for his/her injuries. In order to succeed on a claim of negligence, an injured spectator must provide evidence that the defendant did not take steps to maintain a reasonably safe condition for the spectator at the arena, and that, as a direct result of this failure, the plaintiff suffered an injury. Finally, the injury suffered by the plaintiff must have affected him/her in a quantifiable manner, so that damages can be asserted against the defendant.
Sporting Event Injuries
There are two main types of liability at sports venues – slip-and-fall injuries and injuries involving being hit by an athlete or flying sporting equipment.
If the injury is the result of a slip-and-fall, the injured spectator will most likely be able to recover for the arena owner’s negligence, assuming he/she can provide evidence meeting the elements of negligence described above. That is, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the arena owner knew or should have known about the unsafe condition, but failed to correct or alleviate the condition within a reasonable amount of time.
If the spectator is hit by a flying object, such as a bat, a ball or puck, or even a player who enters the stands, liability of the arena owner is less clear. In most, if not all, situations, spectators enter a sporting arena pursuant to an assumption of the risk for any injuries relating to these flying objects. In fact, most, if not all, tickets to sporting events list this disclaimer as part of the fine print.
However, even with this disclaimer, in some cases, the arena owner may still be held liable to spectators for injuries suffered from flying objects. As an example, in hockey, it is necessary to put netting around the goal ends of the rink, and, in baseball, it is required to have netting behind home plate. The nettings, in both instances, prevent pucks from errant or defected shots or baseballs from foul hits, from entering into the stands at a high rate of speed. These shots and hits are common occurrences in hockey and baseball, so the nettings are used frequently. If an injured spectator can prove that the nettings were faulty or were not moored properly, then the spectator may have a claim for negligence.
Seek Legal Advice
If you, or someone you love, was injured while at a sporting event, and you are wondering what options you have for obtaining compensation for the injury, contact the experienced accident attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have experience in analyzing claims involving serious injuries or slip-and-falls. We will analyze your specific circumstances to ascertain whether anyone associated with the sporting event can be held liable for your, or your loved one’s, injuries, and, if so, we will work to get you of them the compensation you or they deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.