Several years ago, as an avid hockey fan of both the Ducks and Kings, I was very adamant that the netting or protection at games was insufficient to protect patrons. Shots off goal but to the back of the rink routinely rose over the glass and to the side of protective netting, striking patrons.
In every aspect of the law, if persons know that a serious injury is likely to arise from their actions or failure to act, they will be held liable. This acts as a motivator for all persons to act with judgment or face the consequences of legal action. All are liable except the sports franchise. We try to stop this, one case at a time as a personal injury attorney in California.
In California, it has long been settled that actions for injuries at such games or events is limited. The patron assumes certain risks when attending and therefore the Courts, over many cases, reasoned that when attending a game of Hockey for instance, you take a risk you may be hit by a puck. Assumption of the risk is a complete defense. In other words, you cannot show that the sports franchise knew that hundreds of people were being hurt in rink locations that could be prevented completely with a small expense of additional netting along the side of the back line.
As we lawyers sometimes will do, we solicit our friends’ support to garner efforts to make change. I did so with a very good friend of mine, but to no avail. He argued, those professional sports teams are under financial pressure and as a result ticket prices would increase if you allowed lawsuits from patrons hurt by the negligence of the franchise. He pointed out that common sense prohibited a claim. If you go to a baseball game you might be hit by a baseball, so pay more attention. He suggested that lawyers seeking fees were the real issue, and that teams should not be burdened by such costs.
A subsequent wrongful death of a small boy at the first game of his life with his dad, when struck by an errant puck traveling off a slap shot into the stands, gave a lot of weight to my point. The franchise can be applauded. It put up terrific netting, that cannot be seen by the fan during the game and most shots now harmlessly fall to the rink. My friend changed his mind. Isn’t it a shame that people have to suffer tragedy before the change occurs? If businesses fear lawsuits, they will act more responsibly, maybe even hire a consultant. Imagine avoiding injury to a small boy by simply abiding by common sense. If people are getting hurt, reasonably protect them.
If you are hurt, consult a personal injury attorney.