Sporting injury claims – injuries beyond the rules

07 Dec 2012

This past summer the nation was gripped with “Olympic Fever” as London 2012 came and went with great acclaim and success and with Team GB winning a record number of medals for the modern era. As with many major sporting events, injuries do occur and the Olympics witnessed its fair share, from weightlifters dislocating their elbows to runners suffering knee and foot injuries, to swimmers having to withdraw with shoulder injuries. Many sporting injuries are simply part of the inherent and accepted risk of such sport however in some circumstances claims can be pursued where the injury has been suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.

If an injury occurs outside of the accepted rules or risks of the sport then it may be possible to bring a personal injury claim. Common instances of such cases include:

  • Athletes being pushed too hard by a trainer or being given incorrect advice and suffering injury or health problems as a result.
  • Competitors being provided with poor equipment or being permitted to use a pitch, track or other arena which is in poor condition.
  • Negligence by officials in failing to use reasonable efforts to prevent unnecessary risk leading to such injury.
  • Inadequate supervision or training in sports where this would normally be expected such as in more dangerous or unusual sports.
  • Reckless, dangerous and sometimes criminal conduct by other competitors.

Often sporting venues, sporting bodies, sporting associations and sometimes other competitors will have insurance which may cover such a claim.

In certain situations if spectators to a sporting event are injured they may also have a potential personal injury claim. Sporting associations and venues owe spectators, as visitors, a duty to take reasonable care for their safety and as such if there is a failure to do this and spectators are injured they may have a claim. Examples could include inadequate crowd control, safety barriers, shelter, lighting, warning signs or such like.

James Braund, personal injury solicitor at Trethowans LLP, states that “sporting claims are a complex area of personal injury law, usually due to a degree of inherent risk in some sports which will often be deemed to have been accepted by the competitor. However some accidents and injuries involving sports cross that line into negligent conduct by venues, sporting bodies or other competitors and in such circumstances it may be possible to pursue a personal injury claim. As a result of this it is important for anyone who has been injured in a sporting accident who believes that they may have a claim to seek specialist advice from a personal injury solicitor who will be able to advise them further”.