California has 5 Major League Baseball Teams and Anaheim is home to the Los Angeles Angels. Thousands of fans attend sporting events each day in California, especially this year with the Los Angeles Dodgers making it to the world series. Many fans do not anticipate getting injured at the game, as foul balls that fly into the stands are a common occurrence (even hockey pucks at Anaheim Ducks games end up in the stands). And while many people bring their baseball gloves to attempt to catch these balls, on the very rare occasion, on an unsuspecting fan gets injured by one of these foul balls.
Getting a foul ball at a game (or a home run ball for that matter) is awesome. It’s a unique souvenir that one usually keeps forever. However, if the fan gets injured by a foul ball, that souvenir now becomes evidence. In 2014, Bloomberg did a study that stated that 1,750 sports fans were injured a year by foul balls or other debris (like broken bats). Who is responsible for taking care of the medical bills? Who is going to be held liable for your injury?
If you read the back of any stadium ticket, you will see something called a disclaimer. This disclaimer is legal writing which says that the fan assumes the risk of being injured by anything that leaves the area of play. Most baseball stadiums are also shielded by a rule (commonly referred to as the “Baseball Rule”) that states as long as they have netting in the most dangerous seats, they are not responsible for injuries sustained at the stadium.
That means that if you were to get hurt by a wayward sporting item, you are responsible for paying for your medical care. You could not sue the stadium owner for your injuries.
However, over the course of the years, there have been some occasions where lawsuits were allowed to continue through the litigation process. For example, despite the disclaimer on the fan’s ticket, if the netting was insufficient to protect a person from injury, that fan could sue the stadium. The individual would need to prove the netting or glass was not enough to stop the injury from occurring.
If you believe that your injury could have been prevented, then your best course of action would be to contact a personal injury lawyer. While there is no guarantee that you will receive any compensation for your injury, there has been a movement to help those who are injured from foul balls.
As the popularity of the MLB continues to grow, there have been many requests from the public to have the U.S. Court lift the “Baseball Rule” and become liable for injuries sustained to fans attending events. It has been estimated that with new stadium designs, fans are now sitting 20% closer to the field and foul balls are making their way into the stands at an average of 100 mph, yielding little to no reaction time for spectators. While MLB has encouraged teams to install more netting around the field, many wonder if it will be too little too late.