Can I Sue the Stadium if I’m Hurt at a Baseball Game?

Can I Sue the Stadium if I’m Hurt at a Baseball Game?

Michelle Patrick
Michelle Patrick
 | 
Many Major League Baseball (MLB) teams have re-opened their stadiums to full capacity crowds.

As COVID wanes,  minor league, recreational league, college and kids baseball games are in full swing too. 


No one expects anything bad to happen while at a baseball game but any sporting event has inherent risks for both players and spectators. This is particularly true when talking about a game where balls are being thrown at extremely high speeds and hit at equally, or higher, speeds with a bat. In addition to the risk of being hit by a foul ball, there is the risk of being hit by a thrown, or even a broken, bat. 

Every year spectators are injured by foul balls or flying bats.

The actual number of spectators injured, or even killed, is not readily available. However, one study done recently by NBC News estimates that at least 800 fans were injured while attending Major League Baseball (MLB) games between 2012 and 2019.

Those injuries included concussions, broken bones, vision loss and even in a few limited cases, death. In 2018, a 79 year-old grandmother was killed after being hit in the head by a foul ball while attending a game at Dodger’s Stadium in Los Angeles.


800 is likely a conservative number, as not all injuries are reported or recorded. In 2014, Bloomberg News estimated that over 1750 fans were injured at MLB games each year. In addition to MLB games, a large number of spectators attend minor league baseball games and non-professional games, including little league games, at MLB stadiums across the country. 

Who is liable if you are injured while attending a baseball game?
Can you sue the stadium? The team? In most cases, the answer will be no but that is not a hard and fast rule. If you were injured at a baseball game, you should consult with an attorney. 


Check the disclaimer on your ticket.
One way in which stadiums attempt to limit their liability is by placing a disclaimer on the bottom, or back, of a ticket. MLB’s website contains a ticket disclaimer which, among other things, has a provision titled “Assumption of Risk of Personal Injury, Illness and/or Property Damage.”  It makes clear that the ticket holder “assumes all risks and dangers . . . the danger of being injured by thrown bats; bat fragments; thrown or batted balls; thrown, dropped or launched items. . .” In addition, the disclaimer makes it clear that fans are assuming the risk the entire time they are in the stadium, not just during a game. 

A number of MLB teams have also posted disclaimers throughout the stadiums and some routinely make announcements warning fans to be aware at all times. 

Little League games may have disclaimers on their web sites. 


They may argue they tried to keep you safe. 
While MLB does not require stadiums to have protective measures in place, they recommend that there be netting at least over the seats located behind home plate and down to the dugouts. Currently, all MLB teams have netting at least over home plate. Some MLB teams have taken it a step further and extended the netting down to the foul poles. 

Baseball Rule
The Baseball Rule has been in effect for almost as long as baseball has existed. It essentially states that spectators who choose to go to a game accept the risks that may occur as a spectator. Under the baseball rule, as long as a stadium offers some seats that have protection, there will likely not be any liability for injuries sustained by a foul ball. Netting over the seats behind home plate is generally enough to to fulfill this requirement. 

Over the years, courts have enforced the Baseball Rule and been reluctant to find liability on the part of the MLB for accidents that occur at baseball games. There are of course exceptions to the baseball rule. One example might be if a fan is sitting in the seats behind home plate and a foul ball gets through the netting, that fan might have a claim. 

What is the Future of the Baseball Rule?
Many have argued that the baseball rule is outdated. It came about at a time when stadiums were smaller and spectators were sitting further away from the field. It also came about a time when pitchers were not throwing as fast and hitters were not as powerful. It remains to be seen what courts will do as the rule is challenged. 

Call us if you get hurt. 


This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps. 
 
Michelle Patrick

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