Court Applies “Reasonably Foreseeable” Standard in Recent Sports Injury Case

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.

The difference between the two positions came down to the duty that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. As the law had been applied up to this point, co-participants in a sporting event owed each other the duty to refrain from reckless misconduct when the injury was caused by a risk that was inherent to the sport. However, if an injury was the result of a non-inherent risk, then the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to avoid being negligent. Thus, the defendant claimed that being hit by a golf cart was an inherent risk of golfing and the plaintiff argued that it was not.

The court agreed with the defendant, and instructed the jury that the “reckless misconduct” standard applied. The plaintiff appealed to the intermediate court of appeals, which reversed the case in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant then appealed the case to the state’s high court.

In Front of the State Supreme Court

On appeal, the court took issue with judges being put in the position of determining what risks were inherent in certain sports. The court seemed concerned that judges had no business in defining the history or philosophical origins of sports, and ultimately concluded that the distinction between the inherent and non-inherent risks should be done away with. In its place, the court provided a new standard by which a defendant’s conduct should be viewed. The new standard asked whether the risks involved were “reasonably foreseeable” by the plaintiff.

Thus, under the new standard, if the plaintiff’s injury was caused by a reasonably foreseeable risk, then the defendant was held to the reckless-misconduct standard. However, if the risk was not reasonably foreseeable, then the defendant’ conduct would be held to the negligence standard.

Have You Suffered a Sports Related Injury?

If you or a loved one has recently suffered a serious sports related injury that you believe was due to another party’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience assisting accident victims and their families recover for the injuries or losses they have sustained. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Indiana personal injury attorney today.

Related Posts:

Court Discusses Grocery Store’s Duty to Keep Store Free of Dangerous Hazards, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, August 6, 2018

Indiana Court Determines Wires Running Across Hospital Room Floor Were Not an Obvious Hazard, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, July 18, 2018


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