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Injured Baseball Fan Files Lawsuit Against Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies’ ownership group is facing a lawsuit from an injured fan. During a June 2016 game, a line drive hit a man in the eye, resulting in permanent damage to his vision. Prior to this incident, baseball executives recommended extending the safety netting along the foul lines, which Daniel Santillano, the injured party, claims would have prevented his injury.

A Bloomberg news study found that 1,750 baseball fans are hit by balls or bats every year at major league baseball games. With the number of games in a season, this figure is fairly small, but the risk is still there.

Navigating a personal injury case resulting from a sporting event can be difficult, especially with so many variables. It can be difficult to determine liability as well, which is why it’s so important to retain an experienced Fresno personal injury attorney who will fight for the damages you deserve. Learn more about spectator injuries at sporting events and find out how Dunnion Law Firm can help.

Assumption of Risk

As a fan, choosing to attend a sporting event like hockey or baseball comes with an inherent risk of balls, bats or pucks flying into the stands, which can potentially injure spectators. Under the theory of Assumption of Risk, a person who chooses to attend an inherently dangerous activity, like a professional sporting event, assumes the possible risk of being injured. Owners of a stadium or team can defend a personal injury lawsuit for these injuries by arguing that a spectator is aware of the risks, but chose to attend the game anyway. With Major League Baseball, for instance, an assumption of risk statement and disclaimer are written on the back of event tickets.

That said, the stadium owner has an obligation to minimize the risk of injury to spectators. Netting behind home plate or goal posts and plexiglass are meant to protect the spectators, because these are high-risk areas, and the ball or puck is moving so quickly that it’s reasonable to assume a fan can’t move out of the way in time.

Exceptions to the Rule

Stadium owners are well protected with the assumption of risk defense, but there are some instances in which they are liable. When injuries occur as a result of activities outside of normal game play, the stadium owner may be liable. If a player throws a ball into the stands after play has stopped, for example, and it hits and injures a spectator, this injury was not part of the game itself and not a typical or inherent risk.

The stadium owner is also liable if they deviate from the standards for safety netting. If the netting isn’t tall or wide enough to stop the ball, depending on where the spectator is sitting, this is a valid argument. This is also the case if a ball hits a spectator because of a hole or tear in the netting, which demonstrates negligence on the part of the stadium owner.  

Other Injuries at Sporting Events

Aside from foul balls or pucks, spectators are still at risk for other injuries at sporting events. Slip-and-fall injuries, falls from stadium decks, injuries from fighting and other types of injuries are common, but not necessarily specific to a sporting event. Injuries like these can occur anywhere, which falls under premises liability. The stadium owner has some liability if negligence can be proven, but there’s also the issue of pure comparative negligence under California law. If the injured party contributed to their injury through their own negligence, they may be held responsible or partly responsible. Depending on the percentage of fault, however, an injured party may still be entitled to compensation.

Alcohol is often served at sporting events as well, which increases the risks of falls and fights, along with the subsequent injuries. A stadium owner isn’t necessarily responsible for fights between fans that are caused by rowdiness or alcohol and falls that are a result of intoxication. That said, these are also risks associated with serving, and drinking, alcohol.

Consult a Fresno Personal Injury Attorney

If you’re injured from a foul ball, slip-and-fall injury or other type of injury at a sporting event, the recovery process is long and complicated. Determining liability in these personal injury cases can be daunting, which is why you need representation from an experienced, reputable Fresno personal injury lawyer, such as the professionals at Dunnion Law Firm.

Our talented team of personal injury attorneys have been serving victims in the Fresno area for many years, earning millions in compensation and damages for injuries. There are no hidden fees, and we’re so confident in our ability that you won’t owe anything unless we win. Contact us today for a free consultation!