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Can You Sue for a Personal Injury From Playing Sports?

Brandon Evans   |  February 18, 2016   |  

Here in North Carolina, we’re very passionate about our sports. We are a state known for its basketball, football, and baseball, with other sports on the rise. Not only are the kids heavily involved in sports, but even adults will play into their older ages throughout the state. With this mass audience of young to old athletes playing on a daily basis, questions are arising about paying for personal injuries during sporting activities. While each sport is complex, we will do our best to answer your questions in this article.

First – Understanding “Assumption of Risk”

One item that protects leagues and organizations from injury lawsuits is the defense of the assumption of risk. When people play a sport, they act with the knowledge that they’re taking on a risk that can result in a physical injury–especially if nothing unusual occurs during the activity.

It’s not a completely foreign idea that a person might get injured playing in a sport at the gym or in a league and participation almost acts as a silent agreement to the terms. Remember when considering a lawsuit for a sports injury that this assumption can be difficult to overcome as a plaintiff if you’re seeking compensation for an injury.

The Role of Waivers for Sport Injuries

Waivers are meant to protect leagues and organizations from lawsuits, but it doesn’t give the organization the right to be neglectful about items that can create an injury. If you’re a parent and you’re questioning whether or not you should sign a waiver for your child to play a sport, you might want to consider how important it is for your child to play that sport because there’s a strong possibility that your insurance will be responsible for covering medical costs if your child becomes severely injured. .

Now, if you really believe the organization was neglectful about an item related to the athlete’s safety and that item became responsible for the injury there’s a chance you might be eligible to sue for injury compensation. For example, if a field owner decided not to post warnings about or fix holes on the field and an athlete running for the ball were to trip and suffer an injury from the holes, that can make for a good case. This is especially true if the waiver doesn’t acknowledge potential faults on the field.

Causes and Examples of Sports Injuries

Example – Athlete Injures Himself

Injured playing soccerIf you’re playing football and you tear a muscle that results in medical bills and severe pain, you or your health insurance company is responsible for covering the injury expenses. Although coaches and supporters might have encouraged you to play hard, you’re the one that made the choice to overwork your muscles.

Example – Unsafe Normal Play

If you’re pitching during a  baseball game or practice and a ball comes off a bat at a very high speed and hits you in the face, there’s a good possibility you or your health insurance company will be responsible for paying for the injury. If the league didn’t put into play a regulation for unsafe sports equipment, there is a chance you might have a case.

It is important for an organization to show that they’re implementing regulations to protect the players and show they’re not being neglectful about the safety of their athletes. The NFL and NCAA are trying to penalize players who willfully hit another player’s head (also known as targeting)–this can be seen as a regulation put into play to help keep the players safe.

Example – Being Attacked by Another Athlete

Injuries can come from criminal behavior during a sport. If another player attacks another player it then ties in a criminal legal angle. If the injury is bad enough, you can sue the participant that attacked you but there’s the possibility of not ever receiving that money due to a lack of funds.

If the league didn’t take measures to protect you from being attacked, then there’s a possibility of a case against the organization. The Los Angeles Dodgers had to pay out 17 million to a fan that was attacked in their parking lot. The Dodgers lost the case because they didn’t provide enough security that would have protected the fan.

Example – Unsafe Field or Court

If a field is unsafe, no players are warned, and a player ends up injured because of the unsafe conditions, it can result in a sports injury lawsuit. Strong evidence is needed and many factors will still have to be proven for it to be a strong case, but field operators/owners should be held responsible for maintaining a safe facility.

Example – Lightning Striking a Player

Another factor to consider with the safety of the field is the weather. If it is recognized that lightning is visible and close to the area, the league should be doing everything in its power to protect the players from being struck. If a player gets struck and it was obvious that lightning was near, it can make for a strong case.

Always Discuss Injuries with a Personal Injury Lawyer

Runner During a Track RaceOur lawyers are well-equipped to answer your questions. We know that there’s always a possibility for a personal injury lawsuit if there’s neglect. Call us – it’s free and we might save you time or end up helping you get compensated for the injury. You never know until you try.