When is the last time you attended a Houston Astros game? Did you feel safe sitting in the stands when your favorite player stepped up to the plate? Would you still want to attend if you knew an estimated 1,750 Major League Baseball fans are injured by foul balls and broken bats each season?
Baseball is America’s national pastime, but it can also be quite dangerous. It is more common for a spectator to be injured than for a batter to be hit by a pitch. And thanks to a 1913 court ruling that has come to be known as the “Baseball Rule,” neither the teams or the players are held responsible if a fan is injured while root-root-rooting for the home team.
The Baseball Rule
The “Baseball Rule” shields players and teams from liability if a spectator is injured while watching a game unless the fan is watching the game from a particularly dangerous place and the team should have known they needed to provide some protection from injury.
Over the years, ball clubs have acted to protect fans seated in the “zone of danger” by putting up netting behind home plate from one dugout to the other.
The teams assume people seated in other areas have assumed the risk of sitting in an area that has no netting. Teams also like to claim that the fine print on the back of each ticket warning fans of the danger of flying bats and foul balls releases them from liability.
Time For A Change?
Despite its age, the “Baseball Rule” is being called into question after a series of serious injuries to fans both in and outside the “zone of danger”
In May, a 2-year-old girl enjoying a game at Minute Maid Park was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. The ball fractured her skull, and she suffered internal bleeding and seizures.
Last year, a 79-year-old Dodger fan died after getting hit by a foul ball that flew over the netting behind home plate at Dodger Stadium.
Numerous other people have suffered less serious injuries at ballparks across the country.
The Major League Baseball Players Association is calling for netting from foul pole to foul pole to provide additional protection to fans, but some owners and fans worry that it will ruin the view and make it less enjoyable to watch the game. So, perhaps a better change would be to abolish the “Baseball Rule.”
If the teams were held responsible for accidents that occurred inside their stadiums they would be more willing to offer fans greater protection from injury. The current system incentivizes risky behavior and is just a bad policy.
Contact a Houston personal injury attorney for compensation
If you or a loved one has been injured at a baseball game or other sporting event, you should not let the text on the back of your ticket or anything the team’s employees tell you to discourage you from consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney and seeking compensation for your injuries. Some teams are quietly beginning to accept responsibility for what happens in their stadiums and settling disputes with fans who have been hurt. And with the way things are going, it is only a matter of time before a court somewhere questions the validity of the outdated Baseball Rule.