Incidents of fans being hit and injured at sporting events are most prevalent in baseball. Pitchers throw 90 mph fastballs to batters, who send foul balls rocketing into the crowd. Injuries among fans are so common that most pro baseball venues have netting installed in front of the seating areas to prevent these injuries. A Colorado Appeals Court heard a case where a fan attending a hockey game was struck and injured by a hockey puck. The incident raised question whether there should be liability in the case, or if fans attending hockey games are assuming the risks associated with flying hockey pucks.
Teneyck v. Roller Hockey
After being seriously injured from a hockey puck, Gary Teneyck filed suit. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the defendant, based on the common law principle that “no duty” exists to protect fans from injuries incurred at sporting events. Many jurisdictions bar a plaintiff from bringing injury claims resulting from attending events where risks are common. On appeal, the Plaintiff's contention was that the court mistakenly recognized the incident as applicable to the “no duty” rules, instead of applying the premises liability rules.
Related Colorado Decisions
There was no CO case law specifically related to fan injuries at hockey games, and the statutes had not specifically referenced them either. The courts have addressed two somewhat similar topics:
- Colorado Baseball Spectator Safety Act: The general assembly acknowledged those attending professional baseball games may sustain injuries from the risks as a spectator. They found that attendance at such events promotes positive family-oriented activity that should be encouraged. Further, the state derives financial benefits from game attendance. Limitations on liability for team and stadium owners will assist in reducing costs, and maintaining ticket affordability.
- Colorado Ski Safety Act: Created immunity for ski facility operators. Each skier is responsible for understanding their own abilities to negotiate slopes or trails and to participate within the limitations of their abilities. Skiers assume risks of legal responsibility for injuries and property damage resulting from the inherent danger and risk associated with skiing.
Laws regarding hockey do exist in other states such as the Illinois Hockey Facility Liability Act and Utah's Code which extended limitations on the liability of hockey facilities.
Colorado enacted exceptions from liability for certain sports. If the General Assembly wished to apply such for hockey, they could have done so. The court concluded that the Premises Liability Statute should be used to analyze the Plaintiff's case. This would focus on whether the landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to protect or warn against dangers that they were aware of (or should have been).
If you have been injured in an accident or from a dangerous condition while on the property of another party, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your losses and hardship. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal assists Colorado injury victims in obtaining their rightful compensation. Contact the office today for a free review of your case.