Liability and risks of injury in sports and sporting events

Home / Games / Liability and risks of injury in sports and sporting events

U.S. courts “have long recognized that certain risks are inherent in sporting events, including injuries to spectators, and have often imposed limited duties on the owners of the facilities and organizers of the sporting events,” according to Florida A&M Law Review. “Where there is risk of injury, there is also the risk of a lawsuit by the injured person against participants, facility owners, or event organizers and promoters,” adds “Owners, organizers, and promoters of sporting events and recreational activities often try to minimize their risk of liability for injuries to participants and observers through releases, waivers, and warnings.”

Take, for instance, one beloved American pastime: spectators at baseball games sometimes bring their gloves to the game in hopes of catching a ball. Is that such a smart idea? According to HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, “Attending Major League Baseball games can more dangerous than most think.” Batted balls at major league baseball games are estimated to injure more than 1,750 spectators every year. “The league and its clubs have largely avoided financial responsibility for these accidents, since every MLB ticket contains a disclaimer that fans enter at their own risk and U.S. courts generally uphold this long-standing “Baseball Rule.”

The Baseball Rule is a limited duty rule that provides that a baseball facility has met its duty of care to spectators by providing seating that is protected from projectiles that leave the field of play. In other words, spectators who choose not to sit in protected seating do so at their own risk. If they are struck by a foul ball (foul balls travel at speeds as high as 100 mph) and injured, they will not be able to win compensatory damages, as the baseball field and its owners and operators are not liable for spectators’ injuries.

“As it turns out, baseball is one of the safest [sports] for spectators and participants,” argues in defense of what some call the greatest game ever invented. “Soccer is by far the most deadly professional sport,” with as many as 800 fan deaths as a result of riots at or after games. “The Tour de France had three fan deaths between 2000-2009. That’s one every 3 years. …Racing—NASCAR, Indy and Grand Prix combined—account for well over 100 fan deaths since the 1955 Le Mans tragedy which left 81 spectators dead.”

Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

Related Posts
Call Now Button