Baseball season is upon us, weather is beautiful and you set out for a great day at the ballpark opening day. What you may not know is that there is more risk of injury at a sports stadium than a typical business. So who is liable when guests are injured? Let our experienced personal injury lawyers guide you through your claim. Put our 35 years of on your side.
PUBLIC PLACE INJURIES
You may have the more common incidences of slip and fall where the stadium or bathrooms are not properly maintained. Another occurrence at a baseball stadium is a fan getting hit by a ball and some of these injuries can be severe.
So what are the fan’s legal rights? If you turn over your ticket to the sports event you will see a disclaimer. There will be a paragraph or two of legal language in very small print. This is the stadium owner’s attempted disclaimer of legal responsibility for any injuries. The disclaimer will usually say balls and even players occasionally leave the field of play. Further, that the balls might be traveling at high speeds, and that the fan assumes the risk of injury.
Let’s say that you get hit by a foul ball. Is this disclaimer really valid? While every state’s law is different, these disclaimers are valid, with exceptions.
RIGHTS OF SPECTATORS
The stadium owner still has an obligation to act reasonably to minimize the risk of injury to spectators. That is why all baseball stadiums have netting behind home plate to protect against foul balls. The netting is behind home plate because balls that are fouled straight back are going so fast. The spectators are so close, that they could not reasonably get out of the way. However, although home run balls also leave the field of play, there is no netting in the outfield. This is because the balls are not traveling as fast and the spectators have about four or five seconds to track the ball traveling toward them.
If you get hit by a foul ball you might be able to make an argument that the netting was not large enough. This depends largely on where you were sitting. The stadium industry has standards for how far away from home plate the netting should extend. If the stadium that you were injured did not meet those standards, you may have a legal case against the stadium owner.
Another example where the disclaimer might not hold up is if you were sitting behind home plate and a foul ball went through a hole in the netting. In this situation, you could argue that the stadium owner was negligent in its upkeep of the netting.