If you are hurt while watching your favorite Florida team, who is responsible for your injuries? In this post, we’re going to detail recent incidents at baseball stadiums around the country and help you understand what the law says about injury liability.
Are MLB Games Safe for Fans?
At the beginning of the 2018 season, new padded poles were added to hold up extended netting at Yankee Stadium. However, the poles were taken down only a few weeks into the season because some complained that they obstructed the view. Now, a suspended steel cable is holding up netting that runs from home plate all the way to the outfield.
Why was this netting added at all?
Because fans sustained serious injuries in three different incidents last year.
On Sept. 20, 2017, a 2-year-old girl had several bone fractures and internal bleeding after being hit in the face by a line drive baseball. Two other fans experienced significant injuries from foul balls and broken bats.
After these well-publicized incidents, all 30 major league teams extended netting this season to offer greater protection to fans. Some feel that the protections aren’t enough, and that the decades-old baseball rule of limited liability for teams should be abolished.
What exactly is the law?
Liability at Florida Sports Venues
There are two main types of liability at sports venues.
Slip and Fall Injuries
If your injury at a sports facility or stadium is a slip and fall injury, you will likely be able to file a premises liability lawsuit if the property owner is found to be negligent. For example, if you slipped and fell on an unmarked wet floor, you could hold the property owner liable for your injuries.
To win a slip and fall injury case, your attorney will need to prove four elements to be true:
- The property owner had a duty to provide a safe environment for you as a patron.
- The property owner knew or should have known about a hazard to you but failed to correct it within a reasonable amount of time.
- The property owner’s negligence caused injury to you.
- You have the right to file for damages, or financial compensation, as a result of your injury.
All of the statements must be proven true for you to win a slip and fall lawsuit. For example, if water spilled and you slipped on the wet floor one minute after the spill, you likely won’t be able to hold the property owner responsible, since they would not have had a reasonable amount of time to clean it up or mark off the area.
You also must experience injuries that result in significant bodily injury to form a case against the property owner. A scratch or bruise may not qualify, but a broken bone or concussion will.
Hit by Flying Object or Player
If you are hit by a flying object, such as a broken bat, helmet, baseball, or player who enters the stands, the liability is not always as clear. You will need all the skill an experienced Florida personal injury attorney can provide to help you in a case like this.
Your ticket to the game is printed with a disclaimer on behalf of the sports venue owner for any injuries that may occur to you. Normally, the disclaimer will say that fans assume all risk for any injuries related to flying objects like bats or balls, or players who enter the stands while in play.
Is the disclaimer still valid if you are seriously injured by a foul ball? Yes… with a few notable exceptions.
Namely, sports venue owners have a duty to reasonably secure your safety with netting and guard rails.
The netting behind home plate helps minimize the risk to fans. The seating areas most likely to experience foul balls that head straight back are protected by the netting. Fans cannot react quickly enough to reasonably protect themselves in these areas.
In the outfield, fans have a few more seconds to track the ball and take cover before it hits. Depending on where you sat, you could make a case that the netting failed to protect you as it should have.
This could also be true about guard rails. If the guard rail was not high enough to protect you from a fall, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the property owner.
Seek Help from an Experienced Injury Attorney
No matter what the specifics of your situation are, if you are injured at a sports venue, it’s important to call an experienced Florida attorney as soon as possible. We’ll fight hard to help you secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call today for a free consultation.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.