If you suffer a sports injury it is generally accepted that during the normal course of play then it is unlikely you could claim, however if your injury occurs outside the normal game play, you may be entitles to recover compensation from the party which causes you the injury. Like in any personal injury claim there are three things that need to be confirmed. Firstly there needs to be established that there is a duty of care, secondly that there has been a breach of that duty and thirdly was injury caused because of that breach
When could you claim for a sports injury?
Sports injuries can occur in many different environments. You may be taking part in a team or individual sport; exercising in a gym; taking part in physical education at school or physical training with the military; taking part in a team building or motivational event; riding a horse; taking part in motor sport or swimming. There is often a degree of consent involved when you take part in sports however that does not mean that you are not able to claim if the injuries are caused negligently or maliciously.
A few examples are laid out below.
- You may have been injured by a faulty playing surface or faulty sports equipment;
- You may have been injured as a result of negligent training or instruction;
- You may have been injured as a result of the dangerous, reckless or malicious conduct of another player;
- You may have been injured as a result of inadequate supervision or a failure to properly referee/umpire a sporting event.
When is there a duty of care?
Other players do have a duty of care towards each other however it is accepted that you will encounter a few bumps or pains through playing the game. The duty of care however does cover situations where a fellow player or participant in the sport performs maliciously (ie with intent to harm) or recklessly which then goes on to cause injury.
The owners of sports facilities and employees of the sports facilities involved in training also have a duty of care towards the participants. In particular there will be a duty to provide a safe playing environment. So for example they need to provide a pitch or other area that is free of dangers such as broken glass. They are also required to ensure that the equipment that is provided is properly maintained.
For example a cricket club provides helmets for people involved in matches. It is the duty of the cricket club to maintain the helmets to an acceptable standard so as to prevent serious injury.
When is there a breach of this duty?
A breach of the duty could take several forms. A player may cause a broken ankle with a dangerous tackle which may be shown to a be a breach of duty or the sports club which supplies equipment may fail to properly maintain it which again would be a breach of duty. Generally if the player/sports club/owner fails to act reasonably with regard to their duty of care then it is likely there is an argument they have breached their duty.
John regularly plays cricket for the club and is particularly adept in the position of silly point. In this position he has to use a helmet to protect his head as it is very close to the batsman. The cricket club however failed to properly maintain helmet meaning the grill is loose however John does not expect this to be the case. There failure to maintain the helmet is a breach of their duty.
Did the breach cause the damage?
This is often known as the “but for” test. It is fairly simple to explain, but for the breach of duty would the injury have been sustained and is it reasonably foreseeable. If the answer to both those questions is yet then it is likely that whoever breached the duty could be considered liable for the damage which is sustained.
John is fielding in silly point when the batsman hits the ball at his head at high speeds. John crouching down relies on the helmet to protect him however the ball hits the grill knocking it out of place and he suffers a broken jaw from the ball. In this case but for the failure by the club to maintain the helmet John would not have been injured. With regard to the question of it being foreseeable it is likely that they would consider that being hit in the face by the ball is reasonably foreseeable and so passes that test.
If you have been injured whilst playing sport or participating in some other physical activity and this injury is beyond the normal levels of the game then you may have a potential claim. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 014 8727 where one of our professional team will be able to discuss your case with you further. We will then be able to advise you on the feasibility of taking your claim forward on a potential no win no fee basis.