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If a Sporting Event Patron Is Injured, Who Can Be Held Responsible For the Damages?

Part of the appeal of going to a live sports event is the possibility of catching a foul ball or puck. This souvenir can be a reminder of a fun memory for years to come, and can make a great gift for the sports fan in your life. However, sometimes a foul ball has a less positive outcome. A ball or puck hit by a professional athlete can travel at extremely high speeds. If it strikes you, particularly in a vulnerable part of your body, you may sustain an injury. A blow to the face, head, or neck can cause severe damage; you could end up with a broken nose or worse.

What should you do if you sustain such an injury at a sporting event? In most cases, there is no legal recourse in these scenarios. By purchasing a ticket to a game, you are putting yourself in danger. However unlikely that danger may seem, you assume liability.

However, in 2013 the Idaho Supreme Court ruled against this convention. At a 2008 Boise Hawks baseball game, Bud Rountree was struck by a foul ball in the face and lost his eye, a grievous injury by anyone’s standards. He followed through with suing the Hawks. The suit took five years before reaching the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor, allowing him to seek damages for his injury.

Other sporting events can be even more dangerous than baseball games. During a NASCAR race in Florida, 28 fans were injured in a crash. Some of the injuries were quite severe, and 14 people, including some minors, were sent to the hospital. The NASCAR tickets read, “The holder of this ticket expressly assumes all risk incident in the event, whether occurring prior to, during or subsequent to the actual event, and agrees that all participants, sanctioning bodies, and all employees, agents, officers, and directors of Daytona International Speedway, its affiliates and subsidiaries, are hereby released from any and all claims arising from the event, including claims of negligence.”

It would seem the injured NASCAR fans would therefore have no legal leg to stand on. However, personal injury attorneys in the state feel differently, particularly following the Idaho Supreme Court ruling on Bud Rountree’s injury.

The Legal Details

These cases fall under the descriptor of tort law, which involves any conduct causing harm to other people or their property. A tort may also be considered a crime. In general, any conduct violating one’s public duty is a crime and a tort is a violation of one’s private duty. Assault, for instance, falls under both of these legal descriptors.

A tort may be intentional, strict liability, or negligence. Intentional torts typically also are crimes. If somebody performs a violent action with the intent of harming you or your property, this is an intentional tort and also a crime. A strict liability tort is when somebody performs an action which isn’t technically illegal, but is highly dangerous to the public. Negligence is an action which causes damage or harm, but is the result of carelessness.

Sports tort law is an entirely separate legal area, and cases of the nature described above fall into this category. This is an area with rapidly changing regulations and legal designations, as you can see from the cases detailed. While it has been historically considered your own fault for taking the risk of entering a sporting event, the legal system seems to be turning more toward the rights of the individual to attend an event without receiving a grievous injury.

Were you harmed at a sporting event? Grey Law of Los Angeles can help. Contact us today.

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