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Can Injured Players, or Spectators, Sue for Injuries at Sporting Events?


Many sporting and sports-related activities are “inherently dangerous” under the law, and injuries resulting from participation in these activities–even by minors–may fall under “assumption of the risk.” Although coaches and other teachers or sporting instructors generally take reasonable steps (where possible) to minimize the risks of injury, the law cannot and does not require coaches and other sporting instructors to “eliminate” the risk of injury to participants.

The job of a coach or sporting instructor is teaching students to play a sport, and also to increase the student (or participant)’s proficiency. In many cases, increased proficiency comes only with increased personal effort–and, sometimes, risk of injury. While the coach or instructor should keep an eye on students and other participants, and try to prevent unreasonable risks, in many (if not all) cases, it isn’t possible for an effective coach or teacher to remove the risk of injury altogether.

Because of this, most sports coaches and athletic instructors can claim “assumption of the risk” as a defense to a participant’s injury. Coaches and instructors are generally liable only where the coach’s action intentionally or recklessly causes injury to a student or athlete.  Standard risks inherent in the relevant sport or activity will not normally give rise to liability on the coach’s part.

Additional issues arise where the injury was suffered by a minor child, but even here the parents’ decision to permit the child to participate in sports often constitutes parental assumption of the risk on the child’s behalf.



As a general rule, organizers and sponsors of sporting events, and the operators of amusement parks, must take reasonable steps to prevent injury to spectators and attendees. “Reasonable” steps do not include minimization or elimination of all risks, however.

Whether or not an injured spectator can recover for injuries occurring at sporting events depends on the nature of the injury and whether or not the spectator’s decision to attend the event constituted “acceptance of the risk” of the type and nature of injury suffered. For example: participating in, and attendance, at baseball games or golfing events carries an attendant risk of being struck by balls. Assuming the people responsible for the event and facilities took reasonable steps to mitigate foreseeable harms, plaintiffs who suffer these types of injuries may be barred from recovery under the doctrine of assumption of the risk.


DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice to any person or entity, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person or entity. Negligence law and defenses are a complex legal topic, and no single article can provide complete or comprehensive coverage or information about this or any other legal topic or issue. Your personal liability may differ, based on your individual facts and circumstances. If you believe you have a legal claim or issue, or wish to know more about your individual rights, consult an experienced attorney without delay. – See more at:

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