Sporting Events – Who is Held Responsible for an Injury?

Sports are a huge part of American culture, and going to sporting events is a regular pastime for many Americans. However, what do you do if one of the players injures you at a sporting event? If a foul ball or stray hockey puck hits an attendee, he or she may be eligible to file a personal injury claim.

It may seem safe to assume that if a ball player strikes and injures a fan, the team should be held responsible for the injury. However, that is rarely the case, and sports fans are considered to assume the risk of injury when they attend games.


Assumed risk is the term used to describe any situation in which a person knowingly participates in a dangerous or potentially injurious activity. The person must be made aware of the hazard and consent to participate despite the risk. The concept of assumed risk frequently arises in discussions concerning injuries at sporting events, and it is one of the most commonly cited defenses sports organizations use when handling personal injury claims made by injured attendees.

The most dangerous areas of baseball stadiums are fitted with safety nets, but other areas are assumed obviously risky due to the nature of the game. In the case of baseball stadiums, the areas around and behind home plate are heavily protected, because any balls that may hit the stands in those areas are likely to be traveling very fast. However, the far stands around the outfield are open, under the assumption that fans will be able to see any incoming fly balls.

The teams have won many of the recent cases involving fans injured at baseball games; the rulings state that game spectators naturally assume the risk that balls or other equipment may enter the stands unexpectedly. Spectators are aware of the nature of the game and choose to attend anyway, which amounts to an assumption of risk. Most sports organizations also print disclaimers on the back of every ticket as an extra measure of protection against lawsuits.


Due to the nature of sporting events, injured spectators are somewhat limited in their options for legal action against a sports organization. If an attendee injury occurs outside the stadium seats – for example, at a concession stand, restroom, or while using an escalator or elevator – the assumed risk defense does not apply. In those situations, the injured person typically can pursue a lawsuit for premises liability with a Philadelphia premises liability attorney or other forms of negligence.

If the person’s injuries arise due to a defect in the construction of the stadium or faulty equipment such as a broken elevator or staircase, then the legal questions become much more straightforward. In these situations, the organization running the stadium has a legal obligation to ensure its premises pose no danger to attendees and all facilities are safe and in working order.

If you have injuries from attending a sporting event, you may not be able to pursue legal action against the organization due to your assumption of the risks involved with attending. However, depending upon the circumstances surrounding your injury, other options for compensation may be available.

At the Hill & Associates law firm, we believe in aggressively defending the rights of our clients and seek to obtain the maximum compensation possible for injured individuals. Reach out to our team of Philadelphia personal injury attorneys if you’ve been injured at a sporting event and think you may have a case. We’ll review the details of your situation and let you know what your options are, and what type of compensation you may be eligible to receive.