Stadiums are indoor and outdoor structures used for public events such as concerts, conventions, and sporting events. Injuries that happen in sports stadiums fall into two different categories:
- Standard premise liability injuries such as slip and fall accidents
- Injuries that occur when fans are hit by objects such as an athlete’s ball or a puck
In both types of situations, liability the injury all depends several factors. For instance, it can depend on whether the guest assumed the risk of injury for coming to watch the sporting event, knowing that these injuries can happen. Liability can also depend on other factors, such as whether the stadium owner failed to make the premises safe.
What Duties Does a Stadium Owner Have?
A stadium owner must exercise reasonable care to see that the stadium and the outside of the stadium are reasonably safe. The owner must warn visitors of hidden dangers and provide safe seating. An owner must guard against dangers if he has reason to believe they will happen. If he does not, he may be found negligent. Some possible injuries that may occur at stadium include:
- Injuries from slipping and falling on the floor
- Injuries from defective seats
- Injuries from horseplay of patrons
- Injuries from thrown objects
- Injuries from pushing and crowding
- Injuries from collapsing bleachers
How Can I Win a Stadium Liability Case?
In order to win a premise liability or stadium liability case against the owner of the stadium, the injured party must be able to prove that the stadium was negligent in some way. Just because the plaintiff was injured does not automatically make the stadium owner negligent and liable for the injury. In order to prove that the stadium owner was negligent, you must prove that the owner knew or should reasonably have known that the stadium premises was dangerous, and failed to take steps to fix the problem or prevent the injury.
What Might Show Negligence by the Stadium?
To be negligent, the stadium owner must know, or should have known, about the conditions that caused the injury. Some common factors that suggest negligence include:
- The owner does not have enough ushers, attendants, or personnel to supervise the stadium;
- The owner does not regularly inspect and maintain the stadium; and/or
- The owner arranges the stadium in a dangerous manner or allows dangerous items in unexpected areas.
What are a Fan’s Legal Rights?
There are different standards of care imposed on the stadium owner depending on the event. For example, a baseball stadium is required to protect spectators behind home plate with a protective screen, but not at other places. In a hockey arena, the owner must take steps to protect all spectators from flying pucks. In contrast, a concert at a stadium may not require preventive actions.
In addition, there are certain situations where the ticket would have a disclaimer that would state the fan’s rights and obligations trying to minimize any legal rights of the stadium owner. The fan at the stadium must not assume the risk of being injured and know what the risks of attending the events could be. However, having a disclaimer does not make the owner immune from any legal duty to make the stadium safe. The owner still has to take any reasonable steps to make the stadium safe.
What Limits on Liability are There?
The negligence of the owner must cause the injury and not some other unforeseen event. For example, a panic in a stadium is not foreseeable, so the owner is usually not liable for injuries suffered during a panic. Also, the owner is only responsible for unreasonable risks. That means that the owner may not always have to fix every possible dangerous condition.
Furthermore, if the defect did not exist long enough for the owner to possibly discover it, liability may be affected as well. Contributory negligence and assumption of risk may also limit recovery (such as when the injured person contributes to their own injury by disregarding warning signs).
Should I Contact a Lawyer if I Have Been Injured at a Stadium?
If you have been hurt or injured during a visit to a stadium,contacting a personal injury lawyer can be extremely helpful. A lawyer can help you pursue a claim based on your injury and recover damages to compensate you.