Major League Baseball has a problem: injuries to fans. In recent years, many fans have been stricken by foul balls and broken bats.
In response, all 30 Major League teams extended their protective netting prior to the 2018 season, and some advocates have argued that teams should set aside money for injured fans, as this appears to be a common occurrence.
Baseball isn’t the only sport where fans get hurt, however. It’s possible to get hurt at any sporting event, and other common culprits include hockey and auto racing.
With fall sports just getting started, it’s important to know what to watch out for. Let’s take a look at how different kinds of fan injuries can happen.
Baseball Game Injuries
Most baseball fans hope to one day catch a foul ball. Trying for one is the highlight of their game! Did you know, though, that foul balls cause about 1,750 fan injuries every year, some of which are serious or even fatal?
- The LA Dodgers’ Manny Mota hit a foul ball in 1970 that struck a 14-year-old boy on the side of the head, causing a traumatic brain injury. The boy died four days later.
- A foul ball struck a 39-year-old woman in the side of the head during a 2010 San Angelo Colts game. She died a day later.
- A 39-year-old woman died at a Texas Rangers game in 2011 while reaching for a foul ball.
Foul balls aren’t the only cause of injury in baseball. Batters will sometimes break or lose control of a bat, which can injure fans in the stands.
Parts of a broken maple bat hit a woman in the face at Dodger Stadium in 2008, for instance, breaking her jaw. After this injury, the league put new rules in place about the use of maple bats, which at the time were breaking about once per game.
In April of this year, rookie Addison Russell lost control of his bat, which slipped out of his hands and flew into the stands, injuring a fan.
Accidents at the Hockey Rink
Hockey pucks can reach speeds of over 100 mph, meaning that errant pucks can wreak havoc in the stands.
Nearly two decades ago, a 13-year-old fan was hit in the head with a puck during a Columbus Blue Jackets game. This injury prompted the league to add netting at both ends of the ice to protect fans.
In 2013, a woman was struck in the face by a puck in the Blackhawks/Bruins Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Even as recent as last May, a Chicago man was hit in the head with a puck at a Chicago Blackhawks game. He filed suit against the league and the venue.
Injuries on the Race Track
Auto and motorcycle racing are statistically the most injurious sports for fans, causing more sports venue injuries than any other sport.
Crashes at these events can be deadly for drivers and spectators alike:
- Three fans were killed and six were injured in a 1998 US 500 crash at Michigan International Speedway. At over 200 mph, Adrian Fernandez slammed into the wall, sending his right tire careening into the stands.
- Three fans were killed and eight were injured after a tire and other debris flew into the stands at the 1999 VisionAire 500K at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Premises Liability Law in Florida
In addition to injuries related to the sport itself, premise liability cases, such as slips, trips, and falls comprise a large proportion of sports venue injuries.
The chaotic environment of a sports event makes these injuries more likely than in many other locations. Just remember, if you’ve sustained an injury at a sports event, medical costs can add up quickly and you have rights. Consider seeking damages to help you recover from your injury.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.