Professional baseball teams in Ohio to ramp up fan safety

Posted by Anthony Moujaes on Feb 6, 2020 3:09:51 PM

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The attention on fan safety came to the center of the sports world last year, with particular attention on children and fans injured by line-drive balls. A pair of professional baseball teams in Ohio announced their intent to make their venues safer for spectators.

Both the Cleveland Indians and minor-league affiliate the Akron Rubber Ducks announced that they will extend the safety netting from foul pole to foul pole beginning with the 2020 season.

Major League Baseball announced a policy change in 2018 to extend the netting for all 30 of its franchises, amid debate about how teams should do more to increase fan safety.

Back in July, we wrote about how (for the most part) sports teams are not liable for the injuries to fans that might occur from a foul ball, shattered bat, or hockey puck, thanks to a century-old doctrine. The "Baseball Rule" has made it nearly impossible for injured fans to recoup any financial compensation even for their medical expenses. According to the Chicago Tribune:

[Sports teams have] been shielded largely by what’s known in legal circles as the “assumption of risk” doctrine, though many know it simply as the “baseball rule.” It dates back to fine print that originated in 1913... Whether you’ve noticed it or not on tickets (or whatever passes for tickets these days) there is language about how the bearer of the ticket assumes all risks and dangers to the sport of baseball. The legal certainty the doctrine has long afforded could erode in time, but courts have tended to accept that your safety is your responsibility.

Lawsuits that have been filed against MLB and/or its franchises have historically been thrown out of court. NBC News reported last year that there have been at least 808 fan injuries because of foul balls since 2012, with many of those being quite serious.

So even though baseball stadiums will be safer with extended netting, you — the fan — are still responsible for your own safety before, during and after the game.

If you're injured at a sporting event, consult with the Cleveland personal injury attorneys of Lowe Eklund Wakefield to discuss your legal options. Contact us at (216) 781-2600 or use the contact form on our website.