Stadium Accidents and Injuries
For the sports lover, Chicago can be a year-round paradise. The city boasts several major professional sports teams, and any number of minor league or amateur teams to watch. For just about any sport you love — from professional football to amateur roller derby — there’s a team in the Chicago area you can cheer for, or a venue where you can go enjoy an afternoon or evening of athletic entertainment.
Your family outing to a ball game can quickly turn from good fun to tragic when you suffer an injury because of negligence on behalf of the owner or operator of the stadium, arena, or sports field. When a stadium falls into disrepair, a loose railing or a cracked step could lead you to fall and experience very serious injuries. If the stadium owner or operator knew about the problem and either didn’t repair it or didn’t warn you, then you may have a claim for negligence.
In general, the owners or operators of sports stadiums have a duty to people who come onto the premises to keep the premises reasonably safe. When they fail to take reasonable steps, such as performing inspections or making necessary repairs, and you get hurt, the owners or operators may be liable for your injuries and other damages.
That liability may cover injuries such as:
- Slip and fall injuries when unsafe conditions that caused the slip and fall were known to the owners or operators and the type of injury was foreseeable, and the hazard was not known to you, not open and obvious, and not caused by your misuse of the premises
- Injuries sustained because of violent crimes committed on the premises when the owners or operators were negligent in providing security
When the stadium owner or operator was negligent in creating or allowing the circumstance that caused your injuries, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life.
Dram Shop Act
If alcohol is sold on the premises, the stadium owner or operator may be subject to some liability for injuries caused by intoxicated people under the state’s Liquor Control Act, 235 ILCS 5/6-21. For example, if a person is sold alcohol at a stadium and then drives while intoxicated and causes a car crash, the stadium owner or operator may be liable for injuries suffered in the crash.
Baseball and Hockey Spectators
Another common scenario in which someone might be injured in a sports stadium or arena is a person being hit by a baseball or a hockey puck that flies up into the stands. In many circumstances, the stadium owner or operator actually will not be liable for your injuries from a baseball, bat, hockey stick, or hockey puck that travels out of bounds during the game.
In Illinois, the Baseball Facility Liability Act, 745 ILCS 38, and Hockey Facility Liability Act, 745 ILCS 52, only make the owner or operator of a baseball stadium or hockey arena liable for your injuries when you’re seated behind some kind of protective screen that fails because of the owner or operator’s negligence. If you’re out in the open in the bleachers or seats where there’s no protective screen or backstop, then the law says you assumed the risk of getting hit by a flying baseball, bat, hockey stick, or hockey puck when you chose to attend the game. The owner or operator bears no liability for your injuries in that circumstance.
There is one other exception for baseball and hockey games when you’re injured because of willful or wanton conduct by the owner, operator, a player, or a coach.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you were injured by slipping and falling at a sports stadium or arena, were the victim of a violent crime such as an assault, or were injured by an intoxicated person who was sold alcohol at the stadium, a personal injury lawyer can discuss with you whether you might have a claim for compensation.
Legal issues surrounding stadium accidents can become complicated, especially when your injury was more than a simple slip and fall and the Dram Shop Act, Baseball Facility Liability Act, or Hockey Facility Liability Act come into play. Additionally, injuries at stadiums may involve multiple parties located in multiple states, which means a lawsuit might have to be filed in federal court.
When pursuing a claim for damages from an injury suffered in a stadium, it’s important that you have qualified representation from a Chicago personal injury attorney with experience handling stadium accident or arena accident claims. You want someone who knows how these claims work and which laws might apply, and who will be a strong voice for you in settlement negotiations or at trial.