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I Was Hit By A Foul Ball At An MLB Game. Can I Sue?

Sporting events like baseball games are fun distractions that allow sports fans to support their favorite teams in person. However, fans may not realize the risks they are assuming by attending games. When you look at the back of your ticket to a baseball game, you’ll probably notice a few paragraphs of legal wording in very small print. This is a disclaimer used by the stadium and sports organizations to deflect any potential lawsuits that could erupt over fans being hit by pucks, balls, or even players leaving the field.

You may think these disclaimers don’t hold up in court. Unfortunately for victims, they often do. With a few exceptions, fans cannot sue baseball teams or stadium owners for injuries suffered by the normal course of play. Fans assume this potential risk when they attend games, and assumption of risk is a commonly cited defense in personal injury case.

Exceptions and Options for Victims

Today, more fans than ever before are susceptible to injuries from foul balls at baseball games. New stadiums mostly have seats situated closer to the field. Professional baseball players are also much stronger than their predecessors were. Additionally, smartphones are a very prevalent distraction for many people. Someone looking at their smartphone cannot see a foul ball headed in his or her direction, at least not until it’s too late. These factors indicate that fans are more likely than previous generations to suffer injuries from foul balls.

In response to growing concerns, several serious injuries, and a few fatalities at sporting events, major league baseball (MLB) has taken measures to protect fans. Lining the entire field of play with netting would not be practical. Not only would this be extremely expensive, but it would also impair fans’ enjoyment of the game by interfering with visibility. Due to this, owners opt for netting in the most high-risk areas, usually behind home plate. A ball that spikes upward and then down into the stands is traveling faster and more forcefully than a home run hit past the outfield.

The baseball stadium industry dictates how far netting must extend. Depending on where you were sitting when you were hit, you may have a case if the stadium did not meet industry regulations. Additionally, you may be able to prove the stadium’s maintenance of the netting was ineffectual or substandard. Ultimately, your ability to sue for your damages will largely depend on where you were in the stadium and what measures the stadium had in place to protect fans.

Proving Negligence

Personal injury lawsuits hinge on the concept of negligence, and this applies even when disclaimers are involved. In order to prove negligence, your attorney will need to show the court:

  • The stadium had a duty of reasonable care to protect event patrons, such as installing safety nets to protect against foul balls.
  • The stadium violated this duty in some fashion, such as failing to fix known holes in the nets.
  • This violation directly led to your injuries and damages, such as a foul ball traveling through the hole in the netting.

If you can establish these things as facts in court, you might be able to prove the stadium was negligent. Even though you technically assumed the risk of injury by attending the game, the stadium had a legal duty to protect you from any unnecessary or extraordinary hazards. When it fails to do so, it is liable for the resulting injuries.

After suffering an injury from a foul ball, get a copy of your medical report after being treated and then consult with an attorney. A knowledgeable, experienced attorney will be able to review the details of your case and let you know if you potentially have an argument for compensation. If a stadium’s standard of care and hazard management was ineffectual or negligent, the stadium owners need to be held accountable for their actions.

It’s always best to reach out to a personal injury attorney if you are injured at a professional sporting event. Cullan & Cullan offers free initial consultations so we can listen to your situation and let you know if you have a case. Call us today at (602) 900-9483!

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