Getting hurt at a sporting event is very possible and this type of injury falls into two general categories. The first is the standard premises liability claim such as a slip and fall. The other category is a more specific sports claim that occurs when a fan is injured by a baseball or hockey puck to the face. Getting hit in the face by a hockey puck usually doesn’t happen while shopping for groceries. So what happens when a fan at a hockey game gets injured?
As far as the general premises liability law for slip and falls, sport venues do not have any special law protecting them. But, they do have situations where fans are injured just by attending. The back side to most tickets for sporting events will be covered in a fine print. That probably is the owner attempting to protect themselves and limiting their liability. The limitation is generally based around the ball, puck, batt, hockey stick, or player leaving the field of play. That disclaimer is mostly valid and works to reduce the owner’s liability. There are exceptions to the disclaimer in that reasonable measures to protect the fans must be taken. Now the question, what is a reasonable measure?
A reasonable measure to make something safe doesn’t exactly have a definition. Great examples are baseball stadiums the have netting behind home plate so foul balls don’t go straight back and seriously injury a fan. Another example is the plastic walls that surround the hockey rink so fans don’t get hit in the face with the puck. With both examples the owners could do more to protect the attendees, but the extra effort wouldn’t be reasonable. If baseball owners were expected to extend the netting so it completely closes in the baseball diamond, that would be an unreasonable measure of safety. If the plastic wall had to be extended so the hockey players played in a plastic bubble, that would probably be an unreasonable measure of safety to expect the owners to provide.
This however does not excuse the owners from all injuries at a sports venue. Owners still need to maintain their premises including the safety measures. If a foul ball penetrates through the net and injures a viewer, then there is a possibility the net failed because of a lack of maintenance. If you or someone you know has been injured at a sporting event, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.