By Pendergast Law on June 2, 2018
From CenturyLink Field to Safeco Field to Key Arena to Memorial Stadium, there are many stadiums and sporting events around Seattle that attract thousands of fans almost every day.
After all, what’s more exciting than cheering on your favorite sports team live? The tense atmosphere, the delicious smell of junk food wafting throughout the stadium, the anticipation of victory hanging in the airâ€¦the satisfactory yell of triumph after your team scores, and the unique bond as you celebrate it with complete strangers. Or maybe you prefer going to a heart-thumping concert, thousands of fans surrounding you and singing the lyrics to your favorite songs alongside you. There’s nothing that compares to the atmosphere of a stadium.
Stadiums and sports arenas are designed to bring joy, but sometimes the excitement can turn to terror when the stadium experiences safety issues. Last year, a 2-year-old girl suffered multiple facial fractures and a brain bleed after being hit by a 105-mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Major League Baseball now ensures that all 30 of its teams will have extended netting, which will protect fans on the field level. It’s wonderful to see that safety precautions are being taken to protect fans; however, foul balls are just the beginning of what can go wrong at a large-scale stadium event.
Each stadium has its own unique design, and with it, its own possible safety issues, whether it’s a race car driver losing control and almost crashing into the fans, an angry fan attacking someone from the opposing team, or simply faulty stadium seats. Here are some common safety issues to watch out for at large stadiums:
- Food poisoning
- Drunk or aggressive fans
- Missing guardrails
- Faulty seating
You might be thinking that a simple slip-and-fall is your fault and not something you can battle out in court, but that is not always the case. For example, in 2015 a famous Harvard Law School Professor, Alan Dershowitz, sued Boston’s TD Garden after sustaining a particularly nasty spill in the men’s bathroom. Mr. Dershowitz’s complaint stated that the lack of paper towels in the sinks caused the floors to become wet after people would simply shake off their hands or let the water drip onto the floor. Mr. Dershowitz referred to the conditions as “negligent” and “hazardous” for anyone entering the bathroom. His slip-and-fall caused him to “fall upward and then hard upon the tile floor, severely twisting his right knee and leg, landing on his back.” To win his slip-and-fall case, Mr. Dershowitz would have to prove that TD Garden could have prevented his fall and didn’t carry out their duty of keeping the bathroom safe.
Overcrowding is another serious issue for any stadium event. Big events can be oversold by an event manager, and by forgers selling fake tickets. This is dangerous because any crowd movement in an over-packed stadium can lead to injury. This was the case in a tragic Guatemalan World Cup qualifying match, where 84 people were killed in a human stampede.
Are Stadium Owners Responsible?
The biggest question people have after sustaining an injury at a stadium tends to be: Is the stadium owner responsible? The answer is: To an extent.
Yes, stadium owners are responsible for the safety of their guests. They must follow federal, state, and city safety code protocol and avoid violations. But the fans also assume a certain amount of risk by entering a sports stadium. For example, owners would be exempt from being held accountable for most game-related injuries such as being hit by a puck or a bat. That is considered to be a risk that the fans knowingly take as they come to the game.
Most stadium injuries can be divided into these two categories:
1) PREMISES LIABILITY
In a premises liability injury, such as a slip-and-fall, the most important component is proving that the owner was knowingly negligent. For example, that they knew the bathroom floor was very slippery, yet did nothing to correct the situation.
Now in a game-related injury, the owners tend to have less of an obligation to fans, but depending on the circumstances a case can still be made. This is why it’s important to consult a knowledgeable Seattle premises liability lawyer to help you figure out if you should pursue a claim.
Contact Us for a Stadium Injury Consultation
Every day, millions of Americans gather at stadiums all across the country to witness sporting and music events. What should be a fun time can quickly turn into a disaster when stadium conditions aren’t up to par. If you have been injured due to the negligence of a stadium owner or staff, it’s important that you understand your legal rights. If your injury could have been avoided if proper safety precautions were in place, you might have a case. For more information regarding your rights and options, contact theÂ Seattle stadium injury attorneysÂ of Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Call 888-539-9211 for a free consultation. We are with you until you get the settlement you deserve.