Injury In Idaho

Personal Injuries Claims in Sports 

Personal Injury Lawyer

What happens if you or someone you know is injured while playing a sport?  It depends on the sport and how the injury occurred.  In every sport, each participant assumes the risk of injury involved in the sport – this is called “assumption of risk.” 

Most injuries are incidental and occur in the normal course of play of that sport.  For example, a basketball player should know that they may twist their ankle after descending back to the ground after a dunk.  For this, there is no recovery available for the injured party.  However, when a participant sustains an injury as a result of intentional misconduct, negligent coaching, defective equipment, or unsafe facilities, recovery is more likely to occur.

Common Causes

The most common act that causes injury and results in recovery is the intentional act. An example would include a participant being physically attacked by another after a call or play doesn’t go the way the aggressor desires.  For this, the victim may have a personal injury claim based on battery and assault. 

Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals.

The transformative case on recovery for personal injury claims in sports is Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals.  In Hackbart, the court was tasked with determining whether an injury to one professional football player by an opposing player can give rise to liability in tort where the injury was inflicted by the intentional striking of a blow during the game.  The injury occurred in a game between the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals in 1973.  Said injury occurred after a pass play was intercepted by a Broncos player.  The plaintiff was a defensive back for the Broncos and the defendant was an offensive back for the Bengals.  As a consequence of the interception, the roles of each player suddenly changed – the plaintiff, who had been defending, instantaneously became an offensive player, and the defendant, originally on offense, became a defensive player. Acting as an offensive player, Plaintiff attempted to block Defendant by throwing his body in front of defendant. After doing so, the plaintiff remained on the ground watching the play following the interception.  Acting as a defensive player, the defendant, acting out of anger and frustration, but without a specific intent to injure, tackled plaintiff flat to the ground.” Both players, without complaining to the officials or to one another, returned to their respective sidelines since the ball had changed hands and the offensive and defensive teams of each had been substituted.  After missing the two following games, plaintiff was released by the Denver Broncos and thereafter sought medical help wherein a physician diagnosed plaintiff with a serious neck fracture. 

The Initial Ruling

While the trial initially ruled that plaintiff could not recover in tort, the 10th Circuit Court of appeals held that:

[It] is fundamental that for every injury wrongfully inflicted, some redress under the state common law must be afforded since it is essential that citizens be able to look to their government for redress. As was said in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 163, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803), “The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the law, whenever he receives an injury. One of the first duties of the government is to afford that protection.”

In holding, the court recognized the potential for recovery in sports injury cases.  Additionally, the ruling established a participant’s duty to refrain from conduct outside the reasonable boundaries established by the sport’s rules and customs.  If you or someone you know was injured in a sport as a result of reckless or intentional conduct, find an attorney today.

Thanks to Eglet Adams – a well-regarded personal injury lawyer for their insight on Personal Injury claims in sporting events. 

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