Liability at Sporting Events

We live in the best city in the country, Chicago.  One of the many reasons which make Chicago so great are the sports teams.  No matter what your allegiance or your sport, we are militant when it comes to sporting events.  Every weekend, stadiums and other sporting event venues fill up with raucous and excited fans, ready to see whether their team or preferred players, driver or sportsman will win once again. That being said, sporting injuries are not uncommon even in controlled environments such as these.  This article will address some of the legal issues involving liability at sporting events.


Assumption of the Risk

Assumption of risk is a legal principle that places risk on you as a spectator when attending sporting events in Illinois. The law states that you understand that there may be flying objects in the venue, and that is should be your responsibility to avoid said objects. This is usually implied or clearly noted at the back of most tickets. The law looks at some risks inherent to games such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball and any other game where flying objects are the norm. However, assumption of risk will not hold water in some instances.  There are sports and events where injuries should not happen absent negligence and a spectator cannot be said to have assumed the risk of something which could not be contemplated.  In short, legal cases against sports teams for injuries inherent in the sport are very difficult, though not impossible, to pursue.  There are other types of sports injuries which are recoverable.


When Assumption of Risk Doesn’t Apply

When you are at a sporting event, the venue has the same duty of reasonable care to keep its premises safe from dangerous conditions as anyone else.  Wrigley Field is no different than Jewel/Osco when it comes to providing a safe environment for its guests.  For example, if the steps were so worn out that they gave way on the day you decided to go one more flight of stairs in order to get to the best seats, or if there was poor or non-existent lighting on the pathway to the restroom, or if the management turned a blind eye to having patrons being over served and thus inebriated to the point where they get involved in a Chicago car crash after the event, assumption of risk will not apply. You do not assume the risk that you will be injured in such a manner when attending a sporting event.


Note well, however, that the sporting team may not be the responsible party.  Most arenas and stadiums are owned by entities other than the sport teams which play there.  Venues like the United Center and Allstate Arena host many events other than sports.  Identifying the proper entity responsible for your injury can be challenging as well.  Stadium and venues hire many different contractors, from food preparation and hospitality to janitorial services.  There can be many potentially responsible parties.  Finally, some sporting venues are owned by municipalities, and as such, are subject to shorter time periods to bring a case.  Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District, which is part of the City of Chicago.  Generally speaking, you must file a lawsuit within one year, not two years, when suing a municipality.


As you can tell, injuries surrounding sporting events and liability can be complicated and are much different than your typical personal injury case.  It is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to be sure your rights are protected.  For a free consultation, feel free to contact us.