Articles Posted in Sports Injuries

Millions of Americans attend sporting events each year, and spectator injuries are commonplace. While injuries can happen at any professional sporting event, most injuries occur at hockey and baseball games, followed by golfing events and Nascar races. New Hampshire sporting event injury lawsuits tend to involve slip-and-fall claims or struck-by-object claims. These cases are complex and require a comprehensive understanding of various theories of tort liability and defenses.

Under New Hampshire premises liability laws, stadium owners and operators must take reasonable steps to protect visitors and guests from foreseeable harm. However, generally, courts operate under the premise that professional sport event attendees should understand the risk of attending an event, as it is obvious that an object can hit them. Historically, the “baseball” rule shielded baseball teams or sponsoring organizations from liability if a spectator is struck by a foul ball batted into the stands. The rule applies if the owner or operator provided some netting or screening. However, in light of some recent cases, the rule has come under scrutiny.

While spectators who attend professional sporting events may assume the inherent dangers of the event, the venue still has a responsibility to protect its spectators as these injuries can have long-lasting and potentially fatal consequences. For instance, national sources recently reported on a settlement between the Astros and the parents of a toddler who was hit by a foul ball. The toddler attended a 2019 Houston Astros game when she was hit by a ball off the bat of a Cubs center fielder. The impact resulted in a fractured skull and permanent brain damage. The family waited two years after the accident to seek damages against the team. They stated that the delay was so that the family could completely understand the lasting impact of the incident. The girl is now four years old and has been on anti-seizure medicine since the incident.

Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are a way of life for many in New Hampshire and throughout the Northeast. And while skiing and snowboarding are great ways to get exercise and experience the outdoors, there are also certain risks involved in these activities. Some of these risks are inherent in the sport itself, however, many risks can be greatly magnified when ski resorts fail to take the necessary precautions to ensure that the lifts and ski runs are safe for guests.

Of course, ski resorts should take all steps to make the resort safe. However, each year there are hundreds of people who are seriously injured in New Hampshire ski accidents. While some of these accidents involve the negligence of a skier or snowboarder, many would have otherwise been preventable had the resort exercised reasonable caution. However, under New Hampshire premises liability law, some ski resorts may be immune from liability based on the state’s “ski immunity” statute.

In part because the ski tourism industry is such a vital part of the state’s economy, lawmakers have passed certain statutes that shield ski resorts from liability. Specifically, section 225-A:24 states that “Each person who participates in the sport of skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing accepts as a matter of law, the dangers inherent in the sport,” and cannot bring a lawsuit against a resort based on these “inherent risks, dangers or hazards.”

New Hampshire has a wealth of beautiful lakes and coastline, making the state a popular location for boaters and tourists. Boating is a fun and exciting leisure activity, but without proper education and training, the activity can have disastrous consequences. New Hampshire boating accidents can result in injuries to the boat’s drivers, passengers, and those enjoying water sports. Negligent New Hampshire boat drivers may face severe criminal and civil consequences, including jail time, fines, and personal injury claims.

New Hampshire boaters must have a state boating license or certificate; however, if they do not, they must complete a classroom course and pass a supervised exam. Additionally, New Hampshire law prohibits boaters from operating their boats under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a boater’s blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 or higher, they may face a criminal Boating Under the Influence (BUI) charge in addition to civil liability for injuries they caused. Boating injuries may be the result of other boating accidents, as well. Some common situations that may result in injuries are when a boat hits a wave, another boat’s wake, or a submerged object. The boat itself may be dangerous if it has defective equipment or slippery surfaces. Further, individuals may suffer more severe injuries when a boat does not have adequate safety equipment on board.

A recent news report illustrates the deadly consequences a boating accident can have. Recently, two New Hampshire men died in a boating accident on Lake Winnipesaukee. New Hampshire emergency personnel arrived at the scene after receiving reports that a boat was adrift. Reports indicate that there was a female passenger aboard the boat suffering from severe injuries, and the boat’s operator, who was pronounced dead at the scene. While responding to the scene, helicopters and divers found a deceased man on a submerged boat. Witnesses indicated that two vessels collided with each other. Details are few, and police report that they are still investigating the cause of the accident and determining which boats were involved.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire personal injury case involving a horseback riding accident in which a minor was seriously injured. The case required the court to determine if the defendant, an expert equestrian who gave the young girl lessons, could be liable for her injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that under RSA 508:19, the state’s equine immunity statute, the defendant was entitled to immunity.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a thirteen-year-old girl who had been taking horseback riding lessons from the defendant for two years. In addition to her scheduled lessons, about once a week, the plaintiff would go on a “free ride,” during which she would be unsupervised. It was during one of these free rides that the plaintiff fell off a horse while trying to dismount, and was seriously injured.

The girl, through her father, pursued a claim against the defendant. She claimed that the defendant’s negligence in allowing her to ride the horse unsupervised resulted in her injuries. In response, the defendant argued that she was entitled to immunity under RSA 508:19, the equine immunity statute. That statute provides that “an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person engaged in an equine activity, shall not be liable for an injury or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.” The plaintiff’s position was that her injuries were caused by risks that were not inherent to horseback riding.

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