When someone has been injured in a sports arena or stadium, there may be questions concerning liability. There are important elements that the injured party must establish to seek compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages and more.
Establishing Duty of Care in a Sports Arena
The first element is establishing that the arena or stadium owed visitors a duty of care. This means there is a legal obligation to ensure the safety of spectators. With regard to premises liability, there’s a reasonable expectation that the conditions will be properly maintained and hazards eliminated or reduced.
However, spectators assume certain risks when attending a sporting event. In fact, most tickets to sporting events include a disclaimer regarding the risk assumed by fans.
In Colorado, the limited duty rule—also known as the “baseball rule”—even further limits liability of baseball teams and stadium owners. Under the Colorado Baseball Spectator Safety Act of 1993, it’s presumed that fans have knowledge of and assume the inherent risks of being a spectator. This is based on risks that are obvious and necessary, such as foul balls.
Establishing a Breach in the Duty of Care in a Sports Arena
It can be difficult to establish that the stadium or arena breached its duty and failed to provide sufficient protection from hazards.
One example where a stadium was liable is an incident that occurred in 2003 when Rockies fans at Coors Field in Denver were tossed from the third deck after an escalator accelerated suddenly. It was later discovered a malfunctioning piece of equipment and a missing braking sensor were to blame for the incident. This is an example of a breach in the duty of care. A sports arena’s negligence can be based on other factors as well. For instance, a protective screen around a rink that isn’t high enough, protective netting that doesn’t cover a wide enough area, an unsafe feature in the railing, or a safety fence that fails.
Connecting Injuries to Act of Negligence
Injuries must be connected to a breach in the duty of care. Spectators who choose to engage in reckless behavior would have a more difficult time proving their injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence.
As a spectator, you can be considered reckless for things like:
- sliding down a rail;
- horseplay; or
At the same time, if claimants can prove that the owner of the sports arena knew of a risk, such as rowdy spectators, it’s possible to still hold him or her liable. For instance, if there had been a few incidences of a fan falling, a plaintiff might argue that the owner should have known to install a barrier, safety net or buffer.
Injuries can vary, depending on the type of event. Head injuries are the most common such as getting struck by a flying puck, ball broken bat or from a fall. Fans who attend auto races could be injured because of flying debris after a crash.
Injuries at a sports arena need to be handled on a case-by-case basis. To learn about your legal rights and options, contact an attorney. D.J. Banovitz helps Aurora residents injured at sporting events collect relevant information and pursue fair compensation for their injuries. Call (303) 300-5060 or fill out our online contact form to set up an appointment and get started on your claim.