Rowdy fans, old construction, poor crowd control, and lack of security are just a few problems that can cause injuries at concerts and sporting events. While some events come with certain risks, stadium operators have a legal duty to make the premises safe up to a certain standard.
When you walk into a stadium or attend a sporting event, you expect the space to be managed in a reasonable way. Baseball fields have netting in front of the stands to protect fans from foul balls. Tall planes of plexiglass shield spectators from high-speed hockey pucks. Bleachers and seats, especially those on higher levels, must have protective handrails and guardrails. Racetracks must not seat their spectators in areas where vehicles could break through safety rails. Exit routes must be clearly marked and easily accessible.
As a spectator, you might expect some level of risk depending on the type of event you go to. But without proper safeguards, going to any event would expose you to unreasonable risks, with injuries that are often life-changing and life-threatening. In fact, one recent study reported that over 30% of all sports spectator injuries were fatal.
It’s the stadium or event venue’s job to protect attendees from these unreasonable risks. If you get injured because an event venue or stadium was negligent in how they managed the space or handled the crowds, you could file a personal injury lawsuit.
Who is responsible when spectators are injured while attending professional sporting events?
Whether you’re in a stadium, arena, concert hall, theater, hockey rink, baseball field, or basketball court, whether you’re watching a sports event or performance, you have the right to enjoy a certain level of safety. Everyone who works at the venue must do their job to make sure attendees and spectators remain safe as long as they’re at the event.
When even one person fails to do their job, people can get hurt. Depending on the facts of your case, legal responsibility for your injuries may fall on:
The outcome of each personal injury case depends on what exactly happened. No two cases are the same because no two injuries are the same. For example, even at the same venue, one person may fall because a food vendor spilled drinks on the stairs and failed to put up warning signs, while someone else may fall because a stairwell wasn’t properly lit. Another person could get injured because the security company failed to confiscate a weapon at the door. In the first case, the food vendor would most likely be responsible. In the second case, liability would fall to the venue. In the third case, the security company would take the hit.
To prove your case, you must have convincing evidence to back up the facts, especially if the stadium or event venue tries to deny the role they played in your injuries. A good personal injury lawyer can review your case and determine the best options for you.
Stadiums and event venues are not responsible for every accident that happens on their premises. In some cases, spectators assume certain risks with the event they’re attending.
For example, you may be able to sue if you were hit by a foul ball while you sat behind home plate on a baseball field, where you expect there to be a protective net. But you may not be able to sue if you were hit by a home run out in the far stands, because fly balls are a known hazard for those particular seats.
In another example, you may be able to sue if a fan snuck a knife through security and sliced you in the crowd. But you may not be able to sue if you willingly entered a mosh pit and suffered injuries because you knew the dangers and chose to engage with them.
Both of the examples above show an assumption of risk. This happens when a reasonable person can clearly see the dangers associated with an action but you take the risk anyway. In these cases, the risk transfers from the venue owner onto you.
In order for a spectator to assume a risk, the danger must be obvious to a reasonable person or the venue must make the danger obvious by putting up warning signs.
Sometimes, you could hold the venue or a security company legally responsible for your injuries even if you were hurt by the actions of another spectator or audience member.
In one case, the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury and ended up with life-altering amnesia when she fell and hit her head because of rowdy fans at a Patriots vs. Bills football game. She won damages because security companies at sporting events are responsible for managing intoxicated behavior. They should’ve escorted drunken and disorderly fans out of the premises before they hurt other fans. She was able to use evidence from the stadium’s cameras to prove her case.
Property owners and operators have a legal duty to inspect their space for any foreseeable dangers. This includes the potential for crimes on or near their property – such as out in the parking lot. Attendees could be put at an unreasonable risk of harm without proper security.
Even if you’re wearing another team’s jersey, you have the right to be safe at a sporting event. Major sporting events and performances require proper crowd control and safety measures. Stadium owners who fail to maintain their venues properly could be held responsible for the damages that happen to their spectators as a result.
If you’ve been hurt at an event, the experienced California personal injury lawyers at Sepulveda Sanchez Law can help. Click here now to get started and set up your free case consultation.