Sporting events and the associated risks of spectator injuries and liabilities

Alexander P. Pinegar

Author: Alexander P. Pinegar

POST DATE: 6.28.21
Ccha  Personal Injury

Injuries are a part of playing sports, but what about as sport spectators? When attending a sporting event as a spectator, sustaining an injury likely seldom, if ever, crosses your mind. However, you’ve seen the stories on major news -- life-threatening or life-ending injuries sustained by spectators at sporting events. If this happens to you or someone you love, here’s what you should know:

Liability and safety
When in attendance at a baseball game, while standing on a golf course green, or while watching a race at a speedway, you accept and acknowledge a certain level of risk in doing so. This is known as assumption of risk. Assumption of risk is a legal theory that can prevent you from recovering damages for an injury sustained when you voluntarily expose yourself to a known danger.

Owners and operators of sporting venues must provide their spectators with reasonable protections. Failure to do so may result in their liability for your injuries sustained during the sporting event. Depending on circumstances surrounding the incident, an injured spectator may have a personal injury claim against the venue, an athlete, or an entire team.

In the case of a sport like hockey, which is notoriously aggressive, common safety measures are generally taken to prevent injury, such as adding a clear retaining wall and netting around the rink, to prevent projectile pucks from causing injury to those in the front rows. A spectator may have the opportunity to receive compensation after an injury, if the venue operators failed to take appropriate safety measures (ie: netting, glass or failing to repair damaged areas properly).

In some limited cases, an athlete may bear responsibility for the injury of a spectator. Athletes who engage in typical activities associated with the sport generally won’t be responsible, however, in instances where an athlete behaves aggressively or fails to comply with rules of the game, a spectator could conceivably hold that individual athlete liable for injuries suffered.

CCHA april 2021 spectators tw FINAL 2

Building safety violations

One of the responsibilities of a stadium’s owner or agents is to maintain the safety of the premises. If measures aren’t taken to prevent accidents from happening, cases of serious injuries can occur, requiring medical attention. Without proper maintenance of safety measures, the following types of injuries could occur:

  • Falling injuries as the result of faulty or non-existent railing
  • Slip and fall injuries from slick surfaces
  • Falling object injuries from a lack of safety netting
  • Injuries from a fire due to insufficient fire prevention efforts
  • Escalator and elevator injuries

Proving negligence in spectator injury cases

When it comes to spectator injuries, one will generally have to prove negligence in order to receive any damages. Negligence, in this regard, means you would have to prove:

  1. A defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances,
  2. They breached their duty,
  3. You were injured, and
  4. The defendant’s conduct was the cause of your injuries.

Contact CCHA with your Injury-Related Needs

If you have been injured as a sport spectator in some way, contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at CCHA, as it is important that you have a qualified personal injury lawyer representing you from the outset. We recognize every injury case is unique, just as every client is unique. We will carefully review your case and ensure you receive the personal attention and dedication you deserve. No matter the type of case, CCHA is ready and prepared to fight for your rights.