In this country, many people attend a wide variety of sporting events every year: baseball games, football games in Pennsylvania, hockey games, stock car races, the list goes on. And in many of these sports, there is an assumed risk of injury for those participating within it. Football players are going to get hit; it’s the nature of the sport. Baseball players may suffer “bean balls” while they are at bat. Race car drivers could suffer in multiple-car accidents on the track. However, many spectators almost never consider the risk of injury upon themselves as watchers in the stands. Even despite all the home runs or foul balls that find their way into bleachers on a daily basis during baseball season or the occasional wreck in a race where debris makes its way into the stands. As spectators, we need to account for the possibility of our own bodily harm and take precautions to protect ourselves as much as possible to mitigate the risk of injury. However, sometimes, despite all of our efforts, the worst can still happen. In cases like this, it is important to understand your rights for personal injury claims during sporting events.
One of the important things to consider, as mentioned earlier, is the assumed risk you take on as a spectator. How possible is it, regardless of the likelihood, that you could suffer injuries due to actions taken on the field, on the court, on the track, wherever the sport may be taking place. Consider ice hockey. While it may be exciting to sit in the front row right in front of the glass to see all the action up close, it is not historically unheard of that hockey players can create hits so forceful that the protective glass actually breaks. This obviously puts you at risk for an injury if you are sitting very close to it. Sitting in bleacher areas where there is no vertical netting is obviously going to expose you to the danger of wild foul balls than if you were to sit behind the netting. In many situations, these sporting events are known to protect themselves through waiver agreements during the purchase of the ticket (though the wording regarding these waivers can sometimes be exploited).
In some cases, the attempt at seeking settlement for injuries suffered in a sporting event can be hampered by your own behavior during said event. This is called contributory negligence and often comes in the form of behaviors such as the consumption of alcohol or aggressive behavior that may expose you to injury. Putting yourself in such situations will severely affect your ability to collect for recovery of injuries suffered in these cases. Many states have adopted what is called comparative negligence, which will reduce but not necessarily altogether eliminate the ability to collect recover damages, although some states have implemented a “modified” comparative negligence which states that if negligence can be proven in equal doses on part of the spectator and the sporting event party, the spectator will not be compensated for damages suffered in the case.
In all cases, however, where you have suffered injuries at a sporting event – whether it be due to unfortunate circumstances surrounding the event itself or even possibly due to contributory negligence, it is always a good idea to consult a personal injury attorney to explore your options.