It seems dangerous to let thousands of people sit and have solid objects be hit towards them at high speeds by exceptionally strong men.
Yet that's exactly what happens at baseball stadiums across the country every night during baseball season. Foul balls get hit into the stands and spectators -- such as the 8-year-old boy recently hit in the head by a foul ball at an Atlanta Braves game -- are at risk of getting plunked.
The question is: If you get hit by a foul ball at a baseball game, can you sue?
The 'Baseball Rule'
As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves are currently being sued by the parents of another child, a 6-year-old whose skull was crushed by a foul ball.
In that case, the Braves are seeking to apply the so-called "baseball rule." That's a rule which, in many states, holds that as long as the most dangerous areas of the crowd (i.e., behind home plate) are protected by netting -- as they are at Atlanta's Turner Field and every other major league stadium -- then those who sit elsewhere in the stadium are assuming the risk of injury by doing so.
What Is Assumption of Risk?
Assumption of risk acts as a defense to a personal injury lawsuit by showing that the injured person had actual knowledge of the risk of harm typically present in a dangerous activity but voluntarily chose to do it anyway. Baseball teams argue that fans who come to baseball stadiums know there is a risk of being hit by a ball, but decide that the risk is worth it to come watch a game.
Baseball tickets also typically have a waiver of liability printed on the back. The waiver may be difficult for a team to actually enforce against you, however, as you are not obligated to read it or sign it in order to attend the game. Furthermore, as the Journal-Constitution notes, Georgia courts have previously held that children hit by balls may not be said to have "assumed the risk" because of their age.
There are, however, certain types of injuries at a baseball stadium that may also be outside the scope of the risk assumed. After all, you may expect a foul ball, but how about a hot dog to the eye?
If you've been injured at a baseball game you may want to talk to an experienced injury attorney about your claim.