Articles Posted in Sports Activity Injuries

When someone is injured due to the unintentional conduct of another, the injured party may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through an Indiana personal injury lawsuit. One of the first legal questions that must be answered in these cases is what duty was owed to the injury victim. In a recent personal injury case involving a plaintiff who was injured by his golf partner while on the course, the court wrestled with this exact question.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and defendant were golfing together, using a golf cart to navigate through the course. On the eighth hole, the plaintiff was seriously injured when the defendant struck the him with the golf cart. The two sides offered very different versions of what occurred.

The case was tried in front of a jury. When it came time to instruct the jury on the relevant law, the parties disagreed on the standard under which the defendant’s conduct should be viewed. The defendant claimed he could only be liable if he acted with reckless indifference, whereas the plaintiff claimed the proper standard was negligence.

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Everyone going to a ball game knows the risks and the rewards of sitting up in the stands, specifically the fast flying baseballs being batted toward your seat. Sometimes a fan will get extremely lucky and, in the case of Cleveland Indians fan Greg Niel, leave the ballpark having caught four foul balls. On the other end there is a certain degree of danger simply being in those seats. The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to review where liability may lie in the case of Juanita DeJesus who was struck in the face at a RailCats game by a high-flying pop-up foul ball.The Gary South Shore Railcats won the latest appeal in the Indiana State Court of Appeals. The court concluded that there is an obvious well-known risk assumed by sitting in the stands of a baseball game that a ball could be hit at or toward you. This game took place on opening day, and the ball was hit by the second batter of the day. DeJesus suffered several broken bones in her face and the loss of sight in her left eye.

DeJesus’ attorney argued that the team and park were under the obligation to protect those in the stands from this foreseeable harm and that they failed to meet this obligation by not netting off the fans from the field. The Court of Appeals disagreed, having cited rulings in numerous other lawsuits based on similar grounds. It found no ruling that ever admitted a ballgame attendant could be ignorant of the risks. Furthermore, the appeals court highlighted that DeJesus was not only warned three times about the risks of a foul ball at the game but also noted that she attends games regularly and could have purchased different seats if she did not accept the well-known risk.
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In the past month we have blogged about a series posts covering important personal injury information for Spring/Summer activities. In today’s post, we will give a brief overview of current Indiana sports law.

A preliminary report released this month released by USA Football and conducted by Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, based out of Indianapolis, examined the safety of youth tackle football and the long and short term injuries associated with play.In America today, 2.8 million children (age 6-14) play in an organized tackle football league. The study involved nearly 2,000 athletes in 10 football leagues spanning six states, although the findings are not complete as the study is expected to span another whole year.

The report found that nearly 10% of youth athletes suffered an injury. Approximately two-thirds of those injuries were minor enough that the athlete could return to the field that same day. No catastrophic head or neck injuries were reported but almost 4% suffered a concussion.

Lawsuits stemming from Sports Injuries
Sports related injuries fall into a field of negligence in which “assumption of risk” becomes a deciding factor. Assumption of risk is not always cut-and-dry but rather involves what the injured party knew or expected or should have expected before entering the activity and whether the activity was foreseeable. Severe head/brain injuries can have long unforeseen damages associated with them. The personal injury suit will likely require expert witness testimony to predict the long term costs and damages associated with such injuries.

Indiana law, as of 2012, requires any student athlete who is suspected to have sustained a head injury or possible concussion to be removed from all play until the athlete is evaluated by a trained health care provider.

The NHL and player’s union may now face liability in a wrongful death suit brought on behalf of Derek Boogaard for the brain injuries he suffered during his hockey career and the subsequent narcotics addiction allegedly caused by his condition.
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A boy injured during a paintball game may not recover damages from the boy who shot him, according to a Wisconsin appeals court. In Houston v. Freese, a boy who removed his helmet during a game, then suffered an eye injury when he was hit with a paint pellet, sued the boy who fired the pellet for negligence and recklessness. The appeals court found that state laws governing “contact sport” claims precluded a negligence claim, and that the defendant was not reckless as a matter of law.

Jacob Stelter, age 13, invited seven friends to play paintball in an outdoor course that his older brother Kyle had built near their house. Jett Houston and Alex Freese were among the friends who came over. Kyle, who was an experienced player, gave instructions to the group on safety procedures and equipment. Each boy had a mask with goggles for face and eye protection. Kyle instructed them to keep their masks on at all times in the game area, even if they had been eliminated from play. The boys played elimination rounds, in which players had to leave the game area when they were hit with a pellet. They called time-outs sometimes when a player was leaving the field.
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Indiana ranks in the middle of the fifty states and the District of Columbia when it comes to injury prevention, according to a recent study. The study, entitled “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report,” is the work of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a health care policy organization, in partnership with the philanthropic Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study ranks states and D.C. based on ten “key indicators” relating to injury prevention laws or regulations. Indiana has five of the ten. It also ranks the states based on the total number of annual injury-related deaths per 100,000 people. With a rate of 60.4, Indiana ties Kansas for the twenty-seventh highest rate.

The study analyzed injury data, which it says account for 180,000 deaths per year in America. The lifetime costs of injuries in the U.S., which includes both immediate costs and ongoing care needs, as well as lost income and productivity, exceeded $406 billion in 2000. Injuries, as compared to communicable and non-communicable disease, are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of one and forty-four. At 97.8 njury-related deaths per 100,000 people, New Mexico has the highest annual rate. New Jersey, with 36.1, has the lowest. Indiana and Kansas, tied at twenty-seventh, are almost exactly in the middle.
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