The risk of accidents at spectator sports arenas and stadiums exist, but the responsibility of how to deal with the risk of injury from such an accident weighs heavily on the spectator’s own shoulders. When you buy a ticket to a baseball or hockey game, there is usually little print on the back of the ticket stub that states, in effect, “buyer assumes all risk of danger when attending this sporting event…” But there are exceptions where liablity will be imposed on the venue or others.

In legal terms, this means essentially that you understand attendance at the event may be dangerous, but you are showing up anyway so if something should happen to you, then you are responsible for expenses associated with any injuries suffered.

This is based on a legal doctrine called “assumption of risk”. Most courts will not support a case brought by a fan that was hit by a baseball or a hockey puck due to this doctrine. As a spectator, you presume to know that there is a risk of being hit by a flying object so when you buy that ticket, you are essentially waiving your right to sue.

Courts will almost never award damages in these types of injury cases, but there are exceptions to the rule. It is helpful to know some of the factors that a court analyzes when it looks at these individual cases, that helps them to make their decision. Here are some of the factors that a court will consider:

  • The closer the spectator is to the playing field then the more likely it is that the court will conclude that they have chosen to assume the risk.
  • Whether or not the injury occurred during the game
  • Whether or not the person has attended other games (the court will assume they should understand the risks even better).

The instances in which the court will more likely consider an award include the following:

  • The protective screen or barriers are defective due to negligence by the owner or operator of the baseball facility.
  • The injury is caused by willful and wanton conduct related to the game by the owner or operator or any player, coach or manager employed by the owner or operator.

Many people argue that spectators really are not aware of the risks with attending these events because the only warning is printed in tiny print on the back of tickets that few people read. It is hard to say if people would even quantify the risk even if they did read it.

The Drunken Dangers

Not only do flying objects at spectator sports cause problems but also so do flying fans. Fans that drink too much have become so intoxicated that they have actually fallen on surrounding fans causing them serious injuries. A woman was injured when two intoxicated men behind her fell on top of her, breaking her nose and her finger and causing bruises, sprains and other injuries. She and her husband brought a lawsuit against the two men for battery and against the Cincinnati Bengals as well as the football stadium for negligence.

Each state will respectively decide what happens in these types of cases, but in most cases, the teams have an obligation to provide crowd control for safety and the alcohol providers at the events can be held responsible for drunken people’s actions. In 2005, a New Jersey jury awarded a $135 million verdict in a lawsuit brought against the National Football League, the New York Giants, Giants Stadium, and its refreshment concessionaire when a two year-old girl was paralyzed in a vehicle crash caused by a drunk driver who was served and drank too much beer at Giants Stadium.

In early April, a San Francisco Giants fan was attacked in the parking lot after a game by LA Dodgers fans and as a result now has brain damage. The family is suing the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team owner, Frank McCourt Jr., and other business entities affiliated with the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium. The lawsuit alleges that the parking lot was not adequately lit nor was there adequate security to prevent such an attack, and that the stadium security took too long to respond.

If you or someone you love is injured while attending a sporting event, contact our office to schedule a free consultation. We can take a look at the circumstances surrounding the incident to help you to determine if you have grounds upon which to make a claim. We will be honest and up front about our assessment of your case.

At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our practice has been devoted to assisting Georgia residents who are seriously injured or killed by the intentional or careless acts of others for over 39 years. Our experienced Georgia personal injury law firm is available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web No matter where you are, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Montlick & Associates: Caring, Dedication, Experience, Results!