Do You Always Assume the Risk of a Sports Injury?

March 27, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Do You Always Assume the Risk of a Sports Injury? It goes without saying that sometimes the law when it comes to personal injuries is based on common sense. For example, if you voluntarily engaged in a boxing match and then sued your opponent because he punched you in the face, this would not make much sense. When it comes to sports, especially contact sports such as football, boxing, and rugby, you are “assuming the risk” of certain injuries associated with those sporting activities. Even if the injuries are serious, such as a traumatic brain injury suffered after a football tackle, if the injury was a foreseeable result of engaging in the sport then you likely don't have a case for personal injuries. However, this is not always true. If you suffered a sports-related injury that was unexpected or even intentional, you should contact a Florida personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your options.

Assumption of Risk Generally

It is a general principle of law in the United States that undertaking inherently physical activities, such as football, horseback riding, or swimming, carry certain physical risks. For example, if your child goes out to play football, you are assuming the risk that he or she may suffer a concussion, and a school may not be liable for that injury because it is inherent in the nature of the sport. This is called “assumption of risk.” Further, before participating in a sport, you may be required to sign a waiver of liability for all injuries resulting from the activity. In certain instances, this may mean you waived your right to sue for simple negligence stemming from the sport. This is called “assumption of risk” in legal circles, and the other party may claim that you are liable for your own injuries because you chose to participate in the sport itself.

Florida Assumption of Risk Law

Much of Florida laws as related to assumption of risk and sports injuries are subsumed within Florida case law, i.e., the Florida Supreme Court created much of the doctrine. The key with assumption of risk and sports cases, however, is that assumption of risk is only a defense to liability if the injury you sustained was a risk associated with that specific sporting activity. You cannot appreciate and assume a risk that was not foreseeable in some way. For example, if you are playing football, you assume the risk that you may be tackled or sacked and this may result in a concussion. However, you do not assume the risk that a fan is going to run onto the field and attack you. Even though you were playing the sport at the time, if your leg is injured as the result of an attack, you did not assume the risk of this type of injury. Likewise, if you are playing baseball, you assume the risk that you might injure yourself if you're sliding into first base and the first baseman tags and injuries you. You do not, however, assume the risk that a piece of the scoreboard is going to fall on you in the outfield and knock you unconscious. This was not a foreseeable risk associated with the sport. A different type of risk you also don't assume is if something goes wrong with your equipment or there is a hidden danger on the field that you could not appreciate. If you are playing soccer on a public field and fall into an obscured hole, breaking your ankle, your attorney can argue that you could not have assumed the risk of this injury. Ultimately, it will be up to the judge or jury to determine whether you either (1) actually assumed the risk of your activities, i.e., knew there was a hole in the playing field and decided to play anyway, or (2) should have assumed the risk, i.e., the hole was large and you should have seen it before playing.

Recovering Compensation After a Sports Injury

When it comes to recovering compensation after a sports injury, the case is typically in the details. For example, if you injured your back after being sacked in a football game and you are angry because you were tackled harder than necessary, you probably still assumed the risk of that injury by virtue of engaging in a competitive sport. In this case, you may have to avail yourself to only your medical insurance coverage. If, however, you suffered from an unanticipated and unforeseeable injury while engaged in a sporting activity, you may be able to recover the following from either the individual that injured you or the property owner responsible for maintaining the premises:

  • Medical bills;
  • Medical equipment such as a walker, cane, neck, or back brace;
  • Medications such as pain pills, whether prescription or over-the-counter;
  • House cleaning and transportation expenses if you cannot bend or drive;
  • Lost wages and benefits;
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Additional out-of-pocket expenses and special damages that can be linked to your injury.

Because most sports-related injuries do not involve insurance companies unless you are playing as a part of an after-school program or sports league, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your best options for recovery. Whether you would benefit from an early settlement or the facts are unclear such that litigation is likely, your attorney can help you determine the best course of action and your likelihood of recovering compensation.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury and Sports Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one was injured while participating in a sport, you may be entitled to compensation if the injury was unexpected or unusual. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the Clearwater premises liability and personal injury attorneys you need to analyze the facts of your case and get you the compensation you deserve after a catastrophic sports injury. Their attorneys will fight for your right to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any related expenses that you incurred as the result of a person's negligence. They are your premier personal injury and premises liability lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. Call them today at 727-451-6900 or contact them online for a free, no-risk consultation.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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