A Summer of Sport – What Does the Law Have to Say About Sporting Injuries?
This summer is a busy sporting season where we will see Wimbledon, Euro 2016 and Rio Olympics. With this in mind it is interesting to look at one area of law that touches on our own day to day sporting lives.
While we may not lift trophies and receive gold medals, most of us take part in sporting activities to get some exercise, improve our health and have fun. This inevitably involves running around with others and engaging in ‘contact sports’ and we have to accept that, although accidents will occur, often no-one is to blame. We all have to accept some degree of risk of injury when playing sport and we cannot claim for injuries suffered as a result of a genuine accident, such as falling over for no reason, or a legal tackle from another player.
We are often asked if participants can claim if injured whilst you are playing or watching sport. When we participate we do all accept the risks but when an injury is caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This can include dangerous, reckless tackles which amount to foul play, defective equipment, negligent refereeing or an unsafe public viewing area. Participants owe each other a duty to take reasonable care in the way the game is played, and the organiser of a sporting event owes both players and spectators a duty of care to ensure they are safe whilst attending the sporting event.
When considering sporting injury claims, the courts are keen to balance the social benefit of a sporting activity and the risk it entails and will not encourage claims for injuries sustained where that risk was a known risk of that particular activity and elimination of all risk of injury was unreasonable.
Whilst sporting activities are valuable to society and often include a known element of risk, the level of risk has to be acceptable and where there has been a lack of reasonable care, the injured party is entitled to claim for compensation. For those running sporting events and activities, it is important to review the risks and show that you have minimised this where you can as it is accepted that we cannot live, work and play in a risk free world.