The ball screamed off the bat of Chicago Cubs player Albert Almora, Jr. in Houston. All that television viewers saw was Almora crouching and grabbing his helmet in despair. Off camera, in the stands, a little girl attending the game had been struck in the head by the 100 plus mile per hour line drive. It was later disclosed that she sustained a skull fracture, but by all accounts should make a full recovery. This tragic incident is just one example of spectator sports injuries.
For as long as fans have been attending major league baseball games, there have been legal disclaimers on the ticket stubs (and now electronic tickets). The disclaimers warn the ticket holder to be alert for foul balls and insulate the team and ownership from liability for any injuries sustained due to foul balls.
However, in the recent era of stronger, better-trained athletes, as well as a “livelier” game of baseball, balls catapult off bats at nearly 120 miles per hour. The reaction time is decreased, while the potential for injury is increased.
Major League Baseball recognizes the problem, yet fears losing fans who yearn for the interactive close-up nature of their spectatorship. The League has yet to mandate that teams extend the protective netting beyond the dugouts, where it currently protects fans from home plate to the ends of the dugouts.
While it hurts this Cubs fan to accept, the Chicago White Sox did the right thing already by extending their protective netting to the foul poles in the outfield corners. This makes it a virtual certainty no fan will be injured by a foul ball.
In stadiums where the netting has been extended, it has led to fielders chasing balls into the stands, only to be caught by the netting like a falling trapeze artist. Unintended consequences.
A child was killed by a deflected hockey puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in 2002, leading to the placement of netting behind each goal. Pucks also travel in excess of 100 miles per hour. Every hockey arena has protective netting, and in some lower level arenas, there is netting all over the entire fan area.
Basketball players often dive for loose balls, putting the fans in the (generally) very costly seats at risk. Nothing is being contemplated to wall off the competitive area to guard against 7-foot tall, 270-pound diving objects as of this moment.
Most “fans” are fine with a little more protection, although there is a significant “meathead” contingent that wants the naked experience of the gladiatorial fight up close.
With more people not fully attentive due to smart phones, it is more likely than ever that a moment of inattention could result in dire consequences — and more spectator sports injuries in the absence of adequate protection.
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.