Florida residents can enjoy a number of outdoor sports throughout the state, due to the great weather that is present most of the time. Spectators at sporting events should be aware that they assume a certain amount of risk. We attend these events with one goal in mind: to have fun. But do you ever stop and think if you could ever get hurt while watching a game? What are your chances of being injured? Here is a number: during Major League Baseball play, 73% of foul balls go into the stands of spectators.
While the law holds that spectators assume the normal risks inherent in the sport, specific situations involving abnormal circumstances may make it possible to obtain compensation for a sports injury. For example, a golf spectator may assume the risk of being hit by a golf ball but does not necessarily assume the risk of being run over or hit by a golf cart. In addition, the owner or operator of a sports facility or stadium must implement standard or generally accepted measures so that the foreseeable risk of injury does not increase.
The “assumption of risk” doctrine basically says that the injured person assumed the risk of getting injured by willfully partaking in an activity that the person knew could be hazardous. For example, individuals at a baseball game should know that foul balls and home run balls could land in the stands and hit a viewer. Similarly, golf spectators are typically aware that golfers may not always hit perfect shots that land in the fairway or in the green.
Sports fans in Florida should understand the “baseball rule.” This law was first recognized in 1913 and it protects the sports teams. It shields them from liability if they provide at least some screened seats. The exact number of screened seats required to meet the threshold varies, and, as such, the law is controversial. While many states have adopted this law, some jurisdictions have rejected it. Some states have extended it to hockey games. Others have opted for a middle ground. The rule covers baseballs, hockey pucks and other objects that are considered part of regular gameplay. Getting hit by objects thrown by a team mascot may not be covered.
Unfortunately, injuries to spectators do take place. It is important to know that in many cases you will be deemed to have assumed the risk of sustaining the injury. When this occurs, you may be barred from pursuing compensation for your harm.
If you believe that you or someone you know was harmed due to an injury that was out of the ordinary, you will probably be able to recover on the theory of negligence. Negligence is a failure to use ordinary care in one’s actions or omissions. Ordinary care refers to the level of care that a prudent person or business would use in the same or similar circumstances. In order to prevail on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following elements: i) the plaintiff was owed a duty of care by the defendant; ii) the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff; iii) the defendant’s breach was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s harm; iv) the plaintiff incurred quantifiable damages.
Even attending a sporting event can be a risky proposition, resulting in serious injury or even death. If you or a loved one suffered an injury in such a situation, you need to understand your legal rights.