South-central Pennsylvania is one of the country’s best areas to catch a baseball game. Whether you root for the Harrisburg Senators, Lancaster Barnstormers or the York Revolution, inexpensive and entertaining baseball is easy to find.
However, even the most carefree summer evenings at the ballpark can turn sour when a foul ball finds its way to your seat. But if a foul ball strikes you and causes serious injury at a baseball game, can you sue for compensation for your injuries?
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is the legal standard that allows individuals to obtain compensation when a property owner’s negligence causes them harm. For instance, if someone slips in a puddle of water at the grocery store without a Wet Floor sign in sight and injures their back, premises liability allows the injured individual to bring a claim against the store for their negligence.
These cases hinge on the concept of negligence. In premises liability cases, the injury victim has to prove that 1) the unsafe condition did not exist because of their own actions, 2) the property owner or manager knew about the unsafe condition and 3) the property owner or manager did nothing to remedy the unsafe condition.
How does this apply to a foul ball injury?
If you brought a claim against a baseball club for injuries suffered in their stadium, it would likely fall under premises liability law. However, a longstanding tort known as the Baseball Rule protects baseball clubs at all levels of competition from foul ball suits like this.
According to the Baseball Rule, baseball clubs are reasonably responsible for protecting stadium visitors behind home plate, which is considered a “zone of danger.” Liability law requires protection behind home plate because of the obvious and unavoidable nature of the danger there.
However, when fans sit in seats without this required protection, they accept the risk of foul balls entering the stands as a result of standard gameplay.
In other words, fans that are not sitting behind home plate netting do not have a reasonable premises liability claim for injuries caused by a foul ball.
Behind home plate? You may have a case
While the Baseball Rule cements the assumption of risk for fans outside of the protective netting, legal professionals consider foul ball injuries behind home plate on a case-by-case basis. As the victim, you would still need to abide by the negligence criteria of premises liability law to bring a legitimate case against the club.
If you have suffered an injury because of unsafe conditions at one of south-central Pennsylvania’s baseball stadiums, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to determine whether or not you have a claim.