Written By Chris Dolan and Megan Irish
This week’s question comes from a Football fan Trace from Marin County, CA, who asks: My husband and I are ready to watch football. During this season we spend time with family and friends rooting for our NFL teams, our grandkids flag teams and our local high school football team. Yes, we like football. We’ve got tickets for a game at Levi Stadium ( Seahawks v. 49ers ) and cannot wait for November. We are really looking forward to the game at Levi! With all the excitement in the stands and crowds, what happens if one of us gets hurt at a game? I know I get excited, but I have seen people really get into it and maybe over do it.
It’s that time of year again when we all break out the chips and dip and coolers with all the great snacks, don the jerseys of our favorite players, and tune in for some football. It’s great that you two will go out to support your grandkids with their sports teams! Be sure to put on those school colors. Whether watching live at a stadium after a tailgate lunch, at a sports bar, or from your friend’s couch, it’s a time to cheer for your team! Regardless of where you guys are watching, fans can suffer personal injuries at a game. So, if one of you gets hurt, consider the following:
- Were you watching the game at a stadium? If so, who owns the stadium and surrounding land? Sometimes, a governmental entity owns, manages, or controls the local stadium. If so, you may have a short statute of limitations to bring a claim since it is only six months.
- Also, if your stadium or field belonged to the government, did the injury occur because of a dangerous condition on the public property, or did some third party’s actions cause the injury?
To succeed against the government in a personal injury claim from a game time event, you must show a dangerous condition on public property. To prove a dangerous condition, you must show that:
- The governmental entity owned and/or controlled the property,
- That the property was dangerous at the time of the injury,
- That the dangerous condition created a foreseeable risk of the kind of injury that occurred,
- Either an employee’s conduct created the condition, or the entity knew or should have known about the dangerous conditions and had the opportunity to correct them but failed to do so. You were harmed, and the condition was a substantial factor in causing your harm.
If you witness an injury, snap some photos of the area where it occurred, as it may be important evidence of the condition of the area. If you are the injured party, ask a friend, family member, or witness to take photographs and share them with you.
If you were at a sports bar or a friend’s house, you likely have a longer statute of limitations of two years, but you will still need to submit a claim with the proper insurance company promptly. To bring a claim against a sports bar and/or a friend’s homeowners’ policy, it is called a premises liability claim and would require you to show that:
- The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property,
- That the defendant was negligent in the use of the property or its maintenance,
- That you were harmed and
- That the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing your harm.
Regardless, if you or someone you know is injured at a game, seek the appropriate medical care to get better.
Another concern with the return of football is the increase of people who will drink and drive. According to the statistics the California Department of Motor Vehicles kept, there are over 1,000 DUI-involved fatalities each year in California. There are over 100,000 arrests each year for driving under the influence. With football games being a natural and regular place to partake in alcohol, have a designated driver or alternative way to get home instead of drinking and driving.
Nonetheless, sharing the fall season with family and friends and a camaraderie for the game is great. Chips, dips, chicken wings, and sweets, and whether you put on red, gold, silver, black, or local high school colors, be safe, cheer loudly, and enjoy the game.