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Who Is Liable for my Injury at a Sporting Event?

August 25, 2018

Sports games are some of the most popular crowd events in the United States. Nobody who attends a baseball or football game plans for an injury, but, unfortunately, hazards exist that can lead to injury for innocent bystanders. The question is, in the event of an injury, who is liable for damages?

Understanding Injury

A few common injuries can occur during a sporting event – premises injuries, or injuries from being hit with a ball or puck. Premises liability includes slip-and-fall injuries, or those from substandard seating or rowdy crowds. In either case, there must be negligence on the part of the stadium owner to file a lawsuit against him or her.


Stadium owners are only negligent if they reasonably could and should have known about an issue and had time to fix it. If a toilet overflows in the bathroom, for example, and someone slips and falls within the next five minutes – that is not a reasonable amount of time for the stadium to respond. There would only be a slip and fall case in that scenario if there is evidence that employees at the stadium knew there was or would be an issue and they did not take steps to prevent it.

If the stadium has a consistent problem with certain facilities, such as overflowing toilets, and does nothing to prevent injury, then this is a case of negligence. Stadium owners may also be negligent if there is a particularly rowdy crowd and too few ushers to prevent injury and calm the attendees.

Negligence also encompasses cases where an unreasonably dangerous issue occurred with the knowledge of management. Waxing the floors to an unreasonable degree, for example, could constitute negligence. Wet and waxed floors on their own do not always mean negligence; wet or recently waxed floors that don’t signal a hazard, however, may mean negligence.

What Happens if I Get Hit by a Ball?

Wayward balls, bats, or other equipment strike sports fans each season. Many sports stadiums and legislatures, however, forfeit the risk of this scenario through so-called baseball laws – known as such because they started to protect baseball stadiums and teams.

The issue at stake is assumption of risk, which implies that, by attending a baseball or other sports game, patrons understand the danger of a ball striking them. This protects teams, players and stadiums from litigation by placing responsibility for injury onto the crowd. Sporting tickets often have a disclaimer printed to inform patrons that they understand the risk of injury.

Colorado’s Baseball Spectator Safety Act of 1993 bars any injured party from suing the stadium owner should a ball or bat injure them. The statute states that stadium goers forfeit any right to damages in the event of injury, as long as the stadium itself follows a few basic rules. The owners, for example, must still attempt to mitigate the risk of injury – such as using home plate nets. They are also potentially liable if they fail to warn patrons of the statute itself, including with visible signs at the entrance to stadiums. Though stadiums have a strong legal defense against injured patrons, it is not impossible to charge them for negligence.

What to Do If You Sustain and Injury at a Stadium

If you suffer from a slip and fall accident, are hit by a ball, or suffer another type of injury at a sports event, receive immediate medical care. You may then speak with a personal injury attorney, who will be able to assist you with damage claims. Even if you are unsure about liability, speak with an experienced lawyer who can advise your legal responsibility.

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