Claims Ireland

The Independent Service that Assesses Compensation Claims

Sports Injuries

Introduction

We all know that physical sports carry with them a certain level of risk for those involved. Injuries can sometimes occur that are not preventable and are simply a part of a game. Therefore, a person agreeing to play sports is considered to have consented to this natural level of risk of injury. If an injury occurs that is not part of normal play however, it may be possible to claim damages.

It is not only professional sports people that are entitled to claim compensation when they are injured whilst taking part in a sporting activity.  Anyone who suffers a sports injury, whether taking part on a professional, semi-professional, amateur or recreational basis, should be entitled to claim compensation if someone else is to blame for the incident. For blame to exist, the contact has to be reckless or dangerous and beyond the normal range to be expected in the particular sport. There may be a failure to supervise, referee or umpire the sport or activity.

Sports injuries can occur in a variety of situations, including:

  •     Team sports
  •     Exercise classes
  •     Fitness clubs or gymnasiums
  •     Motor sports
  •     Physical education at school
  •     Physical training in the military
  •     Outdoor pursuits (e.g. climbing, horse riding etc.)
  •     Winter sports (such as skiing or skating)
  •     Athletics
  •     Watersports
  •     Swimming
  •     Motivation and team building exercises

Who Can Claim for a Sport Injury?

Injuries arising out of the general physicality of contact or active sports, or from genuine errors in their own judgement or that of other players, would not usually be considered compensatable.

There are certain circumstances under which a sports injury can occur due to negligence however.  For example:

  •     A dangerous defect present on a pitch, court, equipment or other sporting facility
  •     If a referee or umpire did not fulfil their duty to make all reasonable efforts to prevent unnecessary risks
  •     Inadequate supervision or training where it would normally be required
  •     Incorrect instructions from a formal instructor or trainer
  •     Reckless or dangerous conduct by players
  •     Unsafe or poorly maintained equipment and facilities

These types of accident would not be considered part of the normal, reasonable conduct that a player would consent to and could give rise to a valid compensation claim.  In most cases, sporting venues, schools and clubs will have liability insurance in place to cover such eventualities as personal injury claims.

Sports injuries can be serious and may result in the victim suffering a loss of earnings or other financial losses in addition to the pain of the injury.  It is therefore important to seek the advice of a solicitor with experience of sport injury cases if you believe you may be entitled to claim, so that they can assess your individual case and advise on the best way to proceed.

Sporting Event Spectator Injuries

Any person attending a sporting event as a spectator should be able to do so as safely as possible. Where spectators are allowed, those holding the event should ensure that the premises are in line with health and safety standards and that the spectators are situated in a suitable place.

If seating or shelter is provided this should be safe, sturdy and well maintained.  Any barriers or railings in place to protect spectators or direct them should also be in good condition, secure and properly fixed into place.  Appropriate lighting should be provided where necessary and warning signs displayed in respect of any potential hazards. There should be appropriate risk assessments and crowd control measures.

If these basic safety measures are not followed and someone sustains an injury as a result, it is likely that they will be in a position to claim compensation.


Claiming Damages

If you are injured whilst taking part in a sporting activity, your first step should be to seek medical attention.  This will determine the nature of your injury, ensure that you receive appropriate treatment and will be recorded on your medical records if you later decide to make a claim.

It is important to collect as much information as possible if you are involved in an accident, including details of any witnesses and photographs where possible. You should also remember to keep receipts for any injury related expenses, as it is possible they can be reclaimed.

As with any claim, specialist legal advice from an experienced and qualified solicitor is invaluable. In every case, medical evidence will be required, and it is necessary to show that the person you are making a claim against owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty of care (were negligent), and that the injury you sustained was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of that negligence.

Sports Injury Compensation

There are two elements to a compensation award. The first is for the pain and suffering you may have gone through and what is known as loss of amenity. This is called general damages and can include an award for your inability to do things after the accident that you used to be able to do before, eg, wash your car, look after your garden, walk the dog, etc. The award for loss of amenity can be for a short period after an accident or for ever if that is what the medical evidence supports.

The second element of a compensation award is for your losses and expenses and is known as special damages. It is important to keep receipts for any expenditure you have related to the accident, so that these can be reclaimed. The aim is to put you back in a position financially as if the accident had never occurred.

In serious injury cases, where a person may no longer be able to continue their employment, this can be taken into account. Costs for care, equipment, transport and housing modifications can also be factored into the calculations. If the person is still able to work but not in the same role as before, particularly if they held a public service role such as a doctor or police officer, an extra amount may be awarded for loss of ‘congenial employment’. A court can also make a financial award to recognise that an injured worker's prospects on the open labour market may be limited.