Athletes and spectators often accept that participating in a sport involves an inherent risk of injury regardless of whether you are playing the sport or just watching from the stands.
The Civil Liability Act 2003 (QLD) does not apportion liability for a failure to warn of obvious risksin an activity where it is a matter of common knowledge that the risk is there, even if the chances of it occurring are low.
In other words, an injured person is presumed to have been aware of an obvious risk (unless they can prove otherwise), such as a Brisbane AFL player who gets injured from being legally tackled during a game and lands on his neck causing a spinal injury.
Similarly, liability will not be apportioned for injuries that arise from obvious risks of ‘dangerous recreational activities’ involving a significant degree of risk of physical harm. An example would be a Rockhampton bull rider injuring themselves in a rodeo and suffering quadriplegia.
However, there is an exception to the legislation. The following may give rise to liability:
- Deliberate or reckless conduct
- Unexpected aggression/violence
- Unsafe facilities or equipment
- Inadequate supervision
If your situation involves one of these causes, you may have a sports injury claim for compensation.
How Does This Apply To Me?
Are you an athlete?
Your life can be seriously affected both financially and emotionally from a sports injury. If you are a paid athlete, this could mean the end of your career or at least a loss of income and career earnings during your prime years. A seriously debilitating injury may require ongoing funds to compensate for continuing medical treatment, surgery or housekeeping and attendant care.
Some examples include:
- You are a Brisbane Lions AFL athlete and you injure yourself on a playing field that has not been properly maintained.
- The referee in your rugby game fails to adhere to their duty of care to ensure the safety of the athletes.
- Participation in a league or recreational group that results in a serious injury.
Are you a Parent of a Child Athlete?
There is a high degree of trust required on the sports organization for a parent to allow their children to participate in a sport. When this trust is breached and the child suffers an injury, the emotional backlash can lead to feelings of confusion, frustration and anger. Most parents are reluctant to bring an action against the party responsible, especially if it is a school, minor acquaintance, neighbour, etc.
Yet many parents do not realize that most professional and government organizations may have sufficient liability insurance to protect children if they are injured in an accident.
A severe sports injury can permanently affect a child for their lifetime. Thus, parents have a responsibility to protect the legal interests of their children as well.
Other situations where negligence can cause a serious sport or recreational injury may include:
- Unsafe premises or playing field.
- Being inadequately trained or supervised by an incompetent instructor.
- Poor supervision of their physical education (PE) teacher.
- A toddler slipping on a slippery or poorly maintained playing surface.
- Reckless, aggressive or malicious behaviour by another child athlete.
- Inadequate training or supervision for recreational staff or other athletes.
- Medical negligence in giving advice or treatment.
- Failure of a regulatory body to take reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate the inherent risks of a sport in highly regulated sports such as judo or boxing.
Are you a Spectator?
The occupier of a venue where you watch a sport has a duty of care to make sure that you are safe while on their premises by taking reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable risks of harm such as dealing with rowdy drunken spectators or making sure that all walking surfaces are reasonably free of any debris that can cause a slip.
Similarly, a sports supervisor also has this duty of care to protect its participants and spectators. Some other ways that they may fail this duty of care include:
- Failing to provide adequate lighting in high traffic areas during a game.
- Failing to reasonably control the behaviour of their athletes or staff.
- Being vicariously liable for the actions of a negligent or reckless employee.
What Can I Expect From A Sports Injury Claim?
Gathering evidence to support your claim is the first step to protecting your legal interests. This may often require witnesses such as teammates and preferably the game official. Witness statements should be taken as soon as possible before those witnesses begin to forget the details of the accident.
Adequate medical evidence to substantiate your complaints and losses is another source of critical evidence. It is important to find medical professionals highly experienced in the area of medicine relating to your injury.
In a sports injuries claim, there are a number of legal avenues to pursue for compensation including: common law, statute, contract law, workers compensation and public liability.
Sports facilities, employers or public facilities such as schools will most likely have liability insurance that may bear some of the legal costs and disbursements if your claim is successful.
What Kind of Sport Injuries Are Covered?
It is important to understand that each sport carries differing amounts of risk and thus, the courts will apply a different standard of care for each unique circumstance. Compensation may be paid out to victims who have suffered an injury due to negligence. Some of the possible injuries that may occur (but are not limited to) are:
- Cartilage tears
- Sports Hernia
- Open Wounds
- Hip Injuries and Fractures
- Broken Arms and other Limbs
- Groin Injury
- Serious Secondary Psychological
- Spinal injuries
- Cervical or lumbar disc injuries
- Quadriplegia or Paraplegia
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Musculoskeletal Injuries and Diseases
- Spleen Injuries
- Internal Organ Damage (e.g. internal bleeding)
- Injuries (Depression, Phobia, Agoraphobia, etc.)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Compartment Syndrome
- Leg Injuries
- Bone Fractures
- Eye Injuries
- Loss of Hearing
- Joint Dislocations
- Rotator Cuff Injury
- Tendon Tears
- Sprains and Strains
- Whiplash Injuries
- Fractured Clavicle
- Neurological and Nerve Damage
What Kind of Compensation Can I Claim?
If you are successful in your claim, your compensation can include:
- Medical and Rehabilitation Expenses
- Loss of Wages and Potential Earnings
- Domestic Assistance
- Attendant Care
- Medical or Equipment Aids, and Housing Modifications
- General Damages such as Pain & Suffering
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Contributory Negligence is an available defence that limits the amount of damages you can claim in court if it can be proven that you contributed to your own injury through your own negligence.
What Sports Are Covered in a Sports Injury Claim?
Technically, all sports can be covered by a sports injury claim. However, the success of this claim depends on the unique factors in the case such as the degree of injury, how the accident was caused and who was responsible for the accident. Some of the most common sports where a negligent injury may arise include:
- Roller Sports
- Motor Sports
- Horseback Riding
- Racquet Sports (Badminton, Squash, Tennis, Ping Pong, etc.)
- Football, Rugby League, Soccer, AFL, Touch Football
- Gymnastics, Acrobatics, Trampolining
- Water Sports (e.g. Swimming, Boating, Surfing, Fishing, Scub Diving, etc.)
- Ice and Snow Sports (e.g. Skiing, Snowboarding, Skating)
- Martial Arts
What is the next step?
An accredited specialist in personal injury focuses solely in personal injury law and is the most experienced individuals to deal with the complexities of a claim for compensation under the laws of negligence.
This is an important consideration because a sports injury requires its own unique expertise and focus.
Be diligent when choosing a personal injury specialist. The best way to find out if a personal injury lawyer suits you and your claim is first by speaking with them. Most personal injury law firms offer a free, no obligation consultation.
Choose the right team
East Coast Injury Lawyers accredited specialists in personal injury are experienced in representing both plaintiffs and insurance defence. What does this mean for you? You will be receiving a comprehensive assessment of your claim. Having a professional who understands how ‘the other side’ operates also assists your claim by providing foresight to how the claim will progress and how the insurance company will operate concerning your claim.
Contact us today by calling us at 1300 720 544 or filling out our no obligation case review form. We also have a personal injury firm in Brisbane. Speaking to one of our staff is the best way to determine how East Coast Injury Lawyers can help you in your claim.