Millions of Americans are hurt during sports and exercise activities each year. If you have lost your ability to work or suffered major losses related to a sports injury, you may wonder whether you have grounds to request damages through a personal injury lawsuit. The following four questions (and their answers) can help you get a clearer idea of your legal situation, challenges, and options.
1. How Do Sports Injuries Happen?
Contact sports such as football may feature high-impact collisions that result in concussions, herniated discs, broken bones, and other serious injuries. Sports that place heavy demands on the joints can produce dislocated shoulders, ruptured knee ligaments, pulled hamstrings, and torn muscles.
The most serious and debilitating sports injuries involve injuries to the brain and spinal cord. These injuries can leave the participant with lingering or permanent paralysis, cognitive impairment, chronic pain or numbness from nerve damage, and other profound limitations.
Personal injuries associated with sporting events don’t always happen as a direct result of the sports activity itself. For instance, you might sustain a serious personal injury if a fight breaks out on the playing field or if a vital piece of sports equipment breaks at an inopportune moment.
2. Who Assumes the Liability for a Sports Injury?
The assumption of risk doctrine aims to prevent athletes from filing frivolous personal injury lawsuits. According to this doctrine, sports participants who know the injury risks of their particular sport accept that risk when they agree to play. This acknowledgment extends to accidental injuries caused by fellow players.
However, the assumption of risk doctrine doesn’t absolve all parties from every possible sports injury scenario. For example, while you might reasonably expect a broken nose from a punch in the face while boxing, a punch in the face sustained while golfing does not fall reasonably under a golfer’s assumed risk.
You may fairly hold a player who injured you deliberately or through reckless behavior liable for your injury. You might also hold a sports institution liable for failing to uphold reasonable safety standards, such as neglecting to replace a cracked bat or remove ice or water from a slick playing surface.
Don’t assume that a release form or liability waiver that you signed beforehand automatically invalidates your right to pursue legal action against the owner of a sporting facility. If that owner’s negligence or recklessness led to your injury, a skilled attorney may still manage to put your case forward convincingly.
3. How Do You Establish Your Sports Injury Case?
Collect as much hard supporting evidence of your injury and its circumstances as you can. Valid evidence might include video of the incident, key witness testimony, medical treatment records, associated hospital bills, and evidence of lost wages caused by your injury.
Your attorney must also establish that the circumstances of the sports injury fall outside the assumption of risk doctrine. You may need evidence of dangerous playing conditions, poorly-maintained equipment, or a wanton attempt to hurt you.
Keep in mind that Missouri gives plaintiffs a maximum of five years to file any type of personal injury lawsuit. If you fail to file your case before this statute of limitations runs out, you may have very little chance of ever bringing it to trial.
4. What Kinds of Damages Can You Request?
Missouri follows the principle of pure comparative fault, meaning that the plaintiff may only receive compensation for the percentage of liability assigned to the defendant. Depending on the situation, you may seek compensation for medical/therapy bills, lost wages, inability to earn income, and (if a loved one died due to the sports injury) funeral expenses.
If you have a strong case, the defense may settle with you out of court. Just make sure that the settlement amount will adequately meet your needs.
Cantor Injury Law can discuss your sports injury with you and help you decide on the appropriate legal response to it. Contact our law office today for a free, confidential consultation.