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Recreational Sports Injuries

Can You Recover Compensation for a Recreational Sports Injury?

Many recreational sports involve some level of risk of injury, from football and baseball to mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding or riding an ATV. If you are hurt while participating in a recreational sport, is it just part of the bargain? Can you willingly take part in a dangerous or risky activity and then seek damages if you get hurt? The answer—it depends.

The long established rule with respect to many sports-related injuries is known as assumption of risk. When you go onto a football field, in a full-contact game, you expect to get hit, particularly if you want to handle the ball. The key question, though, focuses on the nature of the risk assumed. Do you automatically assume risk for any type of injury simply because there is a chance of certain types of injury? The clear answer there is no. Here are some of the instances where assumption of risk would probably not apply in a recreational injury:

  • When equipment used for the activity is dangerous or defective—Participants in recreational activities have a right to expect that goods specifically developed and marketed for use in that activity are safe. Accordingly, a person may be able to recover damages if an ATV is demonstrated to have an unreasonable risk of rollover. Bats made with defective lumber, bindings that break, inadequate protective gear—all can be the basis of a lawsuit
  • Intentional or reckless actions that are outside of accepted components of the activity—Throwing a baseball at another player or taking a swing at someone, either with a fist or a bat, may be considered outside of the scope of the activity and not covered by the assumption of risk.
  • Other acts not considered to be an inherent risk—You can be hurt by acts of negligence that it’s not reasonable to assume, as they are not part of the activity. For example, if a stadium wall or fence is poorly maintained and causes injury, you will likely have the right to sue.

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