Recently, an Indiana appellate court issued a ruling regarding personal injury claims resulting from participation in sports activity. According to the court’s opinion, the case involved a horse jockey who was injured while training a horse at a racetrack. The jockey was injured when another horse, which had thrown off its rider, barreled into the jockey’s horse tossing him to the ground. The jockey sued the racetrack and the horse’s owner for damages based on negligence and premises liability. However, the court found in favor of the defendants, and the jockey was prevented from recovering damages for his injuries. The court’s opinion could have far-reaching implications for individuals injured while participating in sporting activities.
In reviewing the plaintiff’s claims, the court first reviewed Indiana sports-injury law, and mentioned a few important precedents. First, there is the rule of assumption of duty, which states that an actor who provides safety measures as a service to another and is aware the services will reduce a risk of harm to that individual owes a duty of care to that individual. A defendant violates that duty of care, and may be held liable for resulting injury, if (1) they are negligent in providing that service and it results in an increased risk of harm, or (2) the individual receiving the services relies on the actor in assuming the risk of injury involved. Next, the court discussed the concept that a sports participant cannot be held liable for causing injury to another while engaging in conduct ordinary to the sport unless they acted recklessly or with intent to cause the injury. This rule is rooted in public policy, and designed to prevent discouragement of athletic participation due to vexatious litigation.
In applying these principles to the case in its opinion, the court first pointed out that the plaintiff did not make any allegations that the racetrack owner’s negligence in employing certain safety measures it had in place increased the risk of harm to the plaintiff. Furthermore, the plaintiff did not present any evidence showing that he relied on the racetrack’s safety measures properly when deciding to engage in the activity. In effect, the court found that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury associated with participation in the activity. Therefore, the court ruled against the plaintiff in regard to his claims against the racetrack owner.
With regard to the owner of the horse that caused the injury, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the owner should be held liable due based on the conduct of the rider they hired to train the horse that day. The plaintiff conceded that the other rider could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries based on the rule that sports participants are not liable for injuries negligently caused while engaged in conduct ordinary to the sport. The court held that since the rider who caused the plaintiff’s injury could not be held liable, there was no liability to transfer to the horse’s owner. Therefore, the horse’s owner also escaped liability.
Have You Been Injured in Indiana While Playing Sports?
If you have suffered an injury in Indiana while engaging in sports activities, contact an attorney with experience and skill to advocate on your behalf. The attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse LLP have the knowledge to handle your case properly. For over a century, our firm has provided zealous representation to our clients, helping them recover millions of dollars for their injuries, including in Indiana premises liability cases, car accident claims, and more. Call us for a free consultation at 317-269-2509, and learn how we can help you get the justice you deserve.