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Sporting Venue Safety (and a Blue Jays Hat Trick)

It is undeniable: the Jays are good.

So good that this past Saturday fans threw their hats on the field to celebrate Encarnacion’s hat trick. This is Canada, and Edwin Encarnacion did launch his third home run of the game — a grand slam — in the seventh inning against the Tigers. Hat trick it is, even if it isn’t on the ice.

But throwing things at things always puts up red flags for us (after all, we are personal injury lawyers). In fact, many people do get hurt at sporting events. In order to deny liability, owners and operators of sporting venues take advantage of a defence known as assumption of risk (without getting too law school lecturey, the defence asserts that the plaintiff knew of the danger involved and voluntarily, impliedly or expressly, exposed himself/herself to it). Frequently owners will also disclaim any liability by warning spectators on admission tickets; furthermore, announcers will remind fans to be aware of wayward pucks and balls (but hats?).  Because most fans are aware of the risks involved in watching a game, most courts will dismiss a personal injury lawsuit claiming damages for injuries sustained at a sporting event.

Getting injured by a piece of sporting equipment is one story (and getting struck by an Encarnacion homer would surely be a story!). However, an injury sustained due to the negligence of a sporting venue owner is a completely different ballgame (pardon the pun). There are often circumstances where venue operators will be held liable because they failed to adhere to certain safety rules and standards (wet floors without warnings, broken stairs, unsecured railings just to name a few). Sporting venue owners, like property owners in general, must take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of those who enter the premises. Slip and falls often occur at sporting events, and these types of accidents can definitely warrant a claim. If you or anyone you know has an accident while rooting for the home team, you should get in touch with one of the lawyers at Bergel, Magence, and we will help you out.

Unfortunately, and thankfully very rarely, tragic accidents occur at sporting events. Just last week, a fan fell to his death from the upper deck at an Atlanta Braves game. We would have to know all the details about the situation in order to make a proper assessment regarding liability, but this is just a reminder that you should always be cognisant of your surroundings at entertainment venues of any kind.

So while we should continue to avail ourselves of the pleasures of cheering our teams in a hotbed of passionate revelry, we should also be constantly cautious of the dangers that may occur.  Thankfully, a wayward hat should not be the cause of much injury.

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