Many Florida residents enjoy attending baseball games. Many of their own children may participate in the sport. Although rare, there is the possibility that a baseball could exit the field and strike a spectator. When this happens – and causes injury – can the baseball league be held liable?
A Pennsylvania woman found out the answer to that question after the Superior Court ruled that youth sports leagues – like professional leagues – cannot be held responsible when spectators suffer injuries while watching the game. The woman suffered injuries to her face in July 2009 after she was hit by a ball while watching a baseball game. Because there were no bleachers, she was sitting behind the first base line on a blanket.
The woman and her husband filed a premises liability lawsuit against Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy and Lehigh Valley Stealth Baseball Team in June 2011. The suit claims that the defendants did not designate a spectator area that would keep attendees away from errant balls. The defendants, however, denied responsibility under the “no duty rule.” This rule applies when attendees are hurt due to the “inherent risks of the game.”
The couple fought to have the “no duty rule” overturned because the spectators were forced to sit on the field without protection. However, they failed to produce any expert testimony or reports, and the judge sided with the defendants.
Although property owners are typically held liable when someone is injured on their property, sports teams and league owners are treated differently in many cases. Just like playing sports can result in injury, watching a sports game can be risky as well. Spectators should be extremely careful when attending sports games.
Source: The Pennsylvania Record, “Youth baseball league not liable for facial injuries from errant ball, Pa. Superior Court panel rules” Jon Campisi, Jan. 06, 2014