If you’re hurt at a sporting event, is the stadium or team liable?

June 28th, 2018

By Dean I Weitzman, Esq.


What those liability disclaimers on the back of your ticket really mean

If you’ve ever read the back of an admission ticket for a sporting event, including a baseball, hockey, football or basketball game, you’ve certainly seen all the legal disclaimers that say that you accept the risks of attending and don’t hold the team or venue responsible in the event you are injured.

Have you ever wondered whether those disclaimers have any legal standing in the real world? Do you really give up your legal rights against injuries the moment you walk into a stadium with a ticket that includes disclaimers?

A man watches a sporting even in an indoor stadium. Image credit: ©

A man watches a sporting event in an indoor stadium. Image credit: ©

Well, yes and no. Here’s what you need to know to protect your legal rights:Generally speaking in Pennsylvania, these kinds of ticket disclaimers are adequate to prevent you from suing a sports team or venue if you are injured by a flying object during a game, such as a baseball, hockey puck or basketball. By accepting the terms of the ticket, you’re also not able to sue even if you are injured by a player who leaves the game field accidentally and falls on you as they participate in a game.

The ticket disclaimer is a legal agreement that says that you accept the risks of being there and hold the venue and team free of responsibility in the event of a game-related injury. By accepting the disclaimer, you agree to pay attention to the game and protect yourself and guests from any injuries by being aware and responsible.

But what if you go to a game in a stadium and the seat you sit on buckles and you fall and are injured? What if a rowdy, drunk fan gets in your face and beats you up? What if you trip on a broken step and fall and are injured?

In those kinds of cases, that ticket disclaimer means nothing. In cases like these, even with a standard disclaimer, you can sue the venue and team for your injuries, medical bills and pain and suffering because they were not accepted risks of the event that you attended.

If you are attacked by a rowdy, drunk or violent fan, then you can sue and argue that the team or stadium had inadequate security to protect you. If the attacker is drunk, then you can sue the stadium for improperly serving alcohol to an intoxicated person who then caused your injuries.

Such a situation occurred in Los Angeles on March 31 at Opening Day at Dodger Stadium when a San Francisco Giants fan was severely beaten by an attacker as they left the game, according to a story in The San Francisco Chronicle. The man suffered brain injuries from the beating and his family is now suing the Dodgers and related defendants for negligence, alleging that stadium security was inadequate.

In another recent stadium incident in Denver, Colo., a 27-year-old man died in May after he attempted to slide down a railing and struck his head on the concrete below, according to a story in The Denver Post.

“Witnesses told police that the man had been trying to slide down a staircase railing at Coors Field and lost his balance during [a game] … between the Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, ” the story said. The tragedy wasn’t the result of an injury related to the game and was apparently due to the actions of the victim, based on witness reports.

If you or a loved one is ever injured in a stadium accident or incident, be sure that you get professional and competent legal advice from a lawyer who is qualified in personal injury law.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer are here to go over the facts of your injury case and help you determine if you have a viable claim.

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