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What is a Sports Injury?

A sport injury is any type of injury sustained by a person who participates in a sporting event. There are two basic types of sports injuries: those caused by traumatic impact (such as a blow or strike to the head), and those caused by overuse of a particular body part (such as tennis elbow).

Sports law claims encompass a broad variety of different injuries, such as broken bones, head injuries, joint injuries, and sprains. 

Most legal claims involving a sports injury will involve a traumatic injury rather than an overuse-type injury.  As you cannot expect to hold another person liable for injuries that happen due to overexertion over time.  On the other hand, if a participant causes injury to another participant, it may form the basis of a civil lawsuit.

What is the Assumption of Risk Doctrine?

The assumption of risk doctrine states that participants who voluntarily participate in a sporting activity cannot hold others liable for their injuries that occurred during the game. Co-participants cannot be held liable because when the injured party decided to play, as they voluntarily assumed the risk of possibility of being injured by the other players. 

If there were no assumption of risk doctrine, then athletes of all contact sports could continuously sue each other. However, agreeing to partake in a sport does not mean that the player is assuming any and all risk of injury. They are only assuming the risk of incurring injuries that can realistically be expected to arise during the course of their participation in the sport.

What Are Some Exclusion to Assumption of Risk?

Even though you may assume the risk of injury when participating in a sport, there are some exclusion to the Assumption of Risk theory. These legal theories are applied differently depending on the nature of the sport. 

Some exclusions to assumption of risk theory are:

  • Negligence standard: If a player’s negligence causes another’s injury, they can be held liable for damages. Negligence requires proof that the defendant breach of duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injury. An example is where a player fails to abide by safety rules of the game. 
  • Wanton or Willful conduct standard: The “contact sports exception” states that a defendant is liable only if their conduct was wanton or willful. This means that the defendant acted intentionally in causing the injury. The level of force usually exceeds the normal force exerted in the contact sport.  An example of this is where a player engages in a fistfight during a football game.
  • Defective or Faulty Equipment: If there was a defective or faulty sports equipment that was not anticipated when you voluntarily play the game and as a result injures you, you may have a claim against the owner of the property or equipment manufacturer. 

What are the Damages for a Sports Injury Lawsuit?

The damages that a plaintiff can claim in a sports injury suit are usually monetary damages.  A defendant who is found to be liable for a sports injury may be required to reimburse the plaintiff for the following damages: 

  • Medical and Hospital Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Lost Earning Capacity
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Travel Expenses
  • Costs to modify home to adapt to your injury

Do I Need a Lawyer for help with a Sports Injury case?

Sports are meant to provide fun and recreation; however if you have been injured during a sports event, you may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer for advice.  A personal injury lawyer can help you recover the costs that you expended on your injury.  It is very helpful if you can provide your lawyer with a written account of the incident, as well as any documents and witness testimony related to the injury.

Photo of page author Ki Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-27-2018 10:39 PM PDT

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