Ballpark Safety and Liability

The recent injuries suffered by Dominic DiAngi who was hit by a foul ball while watching the Cubs play at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois have brought to public attention some risks of watching baseball. If a fan is struck by an errant ball while at a field, the team while not likely be held legally responsible. Teams are practically immune in almost all cases, so the injured fan will bear the cost of his injuries. Exemplifying this is the mini contract printed on the back of each ticket warning that the holder “assumes all risk and danger incidental to the sport of baseball.” However, the teams are not completely immune, for example, legal precedent requires netting to be placed in front of the most dangerous areas of the stands, but fans are still liable for any balls or bats that make it past that netting. Laws in Illinois in the 1990s emphasized immunity from lawsuits for clubs that do put up netting.

It may seem like a remote possibility that a fan will be injured at a game, but about 300 people a year are hospitalized after receiving injuries from being struck by foul balls at major and minor league games. In 1970, a 14-year-old was killed after being struck in the head by a foul ball. Read more here.

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