Who Is Responsible for Injuries at Sporting Events and Concerts?


Can you sue if you get hit by a baseball at a game? What about rowdy or violent fans? What if you slip and fall at a concert venue?

Is it possible to hold a property owner responsible for injuries that happen at stadiums, arenas, theaters, sports facilities, and other event sites?

With the decline in COVID-19 rates across the country, sports and entertainment events are back on the menu for millions of Americans. But as more people return to in-person events, the risk of injury goes up as well. Venue owners who feel pinched for money may skimp on the critical repairs or structural improvements needed to keep event attendees safe. Negligent or inadequate security can expose fans to criminal assaults on or around the property.

The result can be disastrous injury or even death, turning a fun day into tragedy. A recent study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that spectator injuries can be “life-threatening and life-changing.” Of all the injuries recorded in the study, over one-third were fatal.

Property owners and venue operators have a legal duty to provide a reasonable level of safety and security for their customers. If you are injured because a stadium owner or sports facility fails to keep their patrons safe, you can sue in a premises liability lawsuit to hold them responsible for your losses.

Assuming Risk as an Event Spectator

When attending a sporting event like a baseball or hockey game, fans assume a certain amount of risk if the danger is obviously a part of the event.

For example, foul balls can be dangerous, but they are also an inherent part of every single baseball game. One study found that in 127 National Hockey League (NHL) games, 122 spectators were injured by pucks, 90 required stitches, and 45% had to go to the emergency room. Most of these injuries involve blunt force trauma to the head or face.

In cases where certain risk should be reasonably assumed by the public, stadium and arena owners may not always be held responsible for these types of injuries. However, you could get damages if you were injured outside the usual scope of the sporting activity or if the stadium owner or other venue owner was negligent in maintaining protective measures for patrons.

Slip and Fall Injuries at Events and Sports Games

Stadium and venue owners have a legal duty to keep their properties safe from foreseeable dangers. Entertainment and sporting events come with unique challenges because of the large number of spectators involved. Managers should take regular care to inspect their property for hazards that can harm the public, such as:

  • Poor lighting
  • Broken seats or stairs
  • Leaking pipes or flooded floors
  • Missing handrails or safety banisters

Some of the deadliest incidents happen at bicycle, motorcycle, and car races where the rider or driver loses control and overtakes the safety barriers in place to protect spectators. These types of events require extra care to minimize the dangers of accidents. That could mean strengthening barriers or keeping spectators out of areas that present higher levels of risk.

If you get hurt because of dangerous conditions on the property, you can sue for damages based on negligence. If a loved one dies because of hazards at an event venue, their survivors can file a lawsuit for wrongful death against the responsible party.

While the law cannot undo what happened, a lawsuit can help “make you whole” by covering the costs of your injury, including any wages you lose if you’re unable to work.

Injuries aren’t limited to just professional or major league sports, either. Little league, minor league, even municipal or intramural sports facilities have responsibilities to their spectators. People can get hurt if bleachers or grandstands are located in dangerous areas that put spectators at higher risk of getting hit by balls, bats, or even players.

Negligent and Inadequate Security at Sporting Events

In some cases, it’s not the conditions of the property but the fans that become a problem.

In a 2018 case, a schoolteacher suffered total amnesia after rowdy spectators at a Patriots vs. Bills game caused her to hit her head. The resulting injury affected her life dramatically – she became unable to remember her happiest memories or family member’s names. The incident was captured on cameras and used as evidence in the case.

According to the lawsuit, the Buffalo Bills stadium security failed in their duty to “properly control and monitor” spectators in the stands. The fan responsible for the injury appeared to be intoxicated and security companies must oversee alcohol compliance at events. In fact, security officers had come to that specific section earlier in the game to deal with the rowdy fans.

While foul balls may be a part of the game, assault by fans is not. Most sporting arenas have rules against drunken or disorderly behavior by spectators. Even if you’re wearing the other team’s jersey, you have a right to feel and be safe at sporting events. After all, spectator safety is the reason stadiums hire security in the first place.

Security can also mean proper crowd control and emergency exit access. Stadium, arena, and concert venue owners have the responsibility to inspect their premises for foreseeable dangers. That also includes crimes on or around the property, such as the parking lot.

When property owners fail to provide proper security, people can get hurt. The venue, its managers, or even the security company could be held responsible.

Negligent Security Lawsuits

negligent security lawsuit can get you the compensation you need to move forward with your life after an injury. A negligent security settlement could cover:

  • Your past and future medical expenses
  • Income or wages you’ve lost as a result of being unable to work
  • Long-term supportive treatment or live-in care, if necessary
  • Pain, suffering, and emotional distress resulting from the incident
  • Disability or loss of enjoyment of life
  • The cost of mental health treatments

If you have been injured at a concert or sporting event, call the top-rated personal injury lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm for your FREE consultation. You can reach us at (800) 501-3011 or use our online form. Our offices are open 24/7 for your convenience.

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