Have you had a sports injury?
Is there an injury claim in Ireland?
Where the sports injury is not intentional, however, the injured party has to show that the other participant was negligent. The threshold for such liability in practice is high. A participant will not be held liable for a simple error of judgment or instinctive reaction, even though the consequences might be tragic, especially in a fast moving game. Something more than that is required. At the very least there has to have been a breach of the rules of the game. However, that alone would not necessarily be sufficient to establish liability, especially if the actions of the participant were being conducted in a manner which was generally acceptable. The injured party does not have to prove that the other participant was "reckless", as such. Rather that he acted unreasonably in the particular circumstances and out of all proportion to the occasion.
If a sports participant has been disciplined by a sports governing body, this will be persuasive evidence that the injured party can rely upon in any subsequent injury claim in Ireland. Other useful evidence will be any video recordings of the incident, the recollection of other participants, spectators and officials or even an admission in an autobiography.
Here are some examples.
IN THE general scheme of things, you wouldn’t put golf high on the list of dangerous sports. Not alongside extreme sports such as bull-fighting or cliff climbing or skydiving, for sure. And, yet, golf – a pursuit which Mark Twain once described as “a good walk spoilt” – has inherent dangers, mainly because none of us are perfect and, unfortunately, errant golf shots can turn a golf ball into a dangerous missile which can maim and even prove fatal.
Indeed, some tales collected from court rooms around the globe provide horror stories that wouldn’t be out of place in a Stephen King novel – among them the oft-quoted case of the Turkish sailor in 1998 who was part of the crew of the Aslan I which docked in Greenore port and, with some time at hand, wandered onto the local golf course, sat on a wooden bench and was hit by a tee-shot that resulted in the seaman losing an eye.
A study conducted in 2008 by the Mater Hospital in Dublin in fact found that there had been 10 incidents – seven adults and three teenagers – of people suffering the loss of an eye in golf-related incidents here in recent years, having been struck by standing too close to a swinging golf club or hit by a golf ball travelling with velocity.
Erdal Sahin, the Turkish seaman in the Greenore case, was awarded over €300,000 in a court action – the judge held the golfer who took the tee shot and the golf club to be 50 per cent liable each, as the bench was located in front of the teeing ground.
One fatal incident on a course occurred in Arlington in Texas in 2005, where a father and son were playing a round of golf. The father advanced some 150 yards down the fairway and stood behind a tree while his son played a tee shot.
“The ball took a crazy ricochet off a branch of that tree and hit my dad in the back of the neck,” the son, Scott Parlin, recalled in a subsequent television documentary recorded last year to highlight the sport’s danger. “He didn’t fall down, but he grabbed the spot where the ball hit him.”
Within minutes, Dale Parlin collapsed and was rushed to Arlington Memorial Hospital. He died the next day of a cerebral haemorrhage.
Through the years, there have been other documented cases of death on the golf course including one in the RA’s ‘Golfer’s Handbook’ which highlights the possible dangers. It tells the scary story that befell a Canadian, Harold Kalles of Toronto, who died in 1963 after the shaft of his golf club broke against a tree as he attempted to play a recovery shot from a bunker. The broken shaft caught him in the throat and he died some days later in hospital.
A golfer, whose ball bounced off a tree and struck another player on an adjacent fairway, was liable because he was playing a difficult shot and knew there was someone on the adjacent fairway, Pearson v Lightning (1998).
And a court case in the UK in 1998 also showed that even where a golfer shouts a warning – “Fore!” – after hitting an errant shot, it doesn’t provide immunity from an action. In that case, the 16-handicapper was ordered to pay €81,000 after a wayward shot hit a fellow golfer.
The player in question had been trying to play over a ditch towards the green but his ball struck a tree and went off at an angle towards a player standing almost 90 yards away on an adjoining fairway.
Even though the player who hit the shot shouted “fore,” the victim didn’t hear the warning and sustained injuries to his eye.
In another case brought to a court in the United States in 2008, a man – in New Jersey – had glass embedded in his eye when a lawnmower kicked up a golf ball and sent it through his car windshield.
In the Court of Appeal case of Condon v. Basi (1985) an amateur footballer was held liable for breaking his opponent's leg in a tackle during a local league match. Mr. Basi was held liable for Mr. Condon's broken leg because his sliding tackle was adjudged to constitute "serious foul play" and to have been made in a reckless and dangerous manner (albeit without malicious intent) and to have been worthy of a sending off.
In Elliot v Saunders and Liverpool FC (1994) the tackle made by Saunders was strong and resulted in a foul. But it was not negligent
A hockey player, who followed through too high with his stick and caused an eye injury, was negligent, Leatherland v Edwards (1999).
A rugby player was liable for picking an opponent up and dropping him on his head, Elshafey v Clay (2001).
In Caldwelll v. Fitzgerald and others (2001) the Court of Appeal held that two jockeys were not liable to Mr. Caldwell who was injured. Their failure to check that the line they were taking was safe was treated as an error of judgment which happened quite often. This was despite the fact that at a steward's inquiry, the two jockeys were found guilty of careless riding (contrary to the Jockey Club Rules) in not having left Mr. Caldwell enough room to come round the inside rail.
In what circumstances can a governing body or organiser be held liable for an injury?
In the case of Watson v. British Board of Boxing (1999), the Board was held negligent for failing to provide adequate emergency facilities at the World Middleweight title fight between Chris Eubank and Michael Watson. The Court held that there should have been a ringside Doctor present with the ability to administer a diuretic drug. By failing to institute such a system, the Board was found to be in breach of its duties. Governing bodies are under a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that participants are not exposed to unnecessary risks to their health and safety and that if injury results to ensure that they are properly treated.
Smoldon v. Whitworth & Nolan (1997). Here a referee of a Colts Rugby Union match was found liable for the injuries suffered by a rugby player as the result of a collapsed scrum. However, on this occasion the referee had failed to enforce the rules of the International Rugby Football Board as applied to a colts game, in which there had been more than 20 collapsed scrums. There had also been complaints from certain players, a warning from one of the touch judges and shouts from spectators.
Vowles v Evans and Others (2002). This case concerns a rugby player whose neck was broken as a result of a collapsed scrum. The referee had allowed a flanker to move to the position of prop after one of the props had gone off injured. The Court said the referee should not have allowed the flanker to play in such a specialised position and should have ordered non-contested scrums. This was despite the fact that it is general practice to leave such a decision to the players and coach. The referee is seeking permission to appeal this decision.
Most injuries are minor and do not affect day to day life for any significant period. For example a grade1 hamstring strain is a very common amateur sports injury, which will still enable the individual to move about as usual.
However, a more serious injury could be costly to the individual. Lost earnings through sports injuries were thought to equal $19 million in one US state alone in 1996 and whilst sick pay may cover some of the loss, the player may still be left out of pocket. Unfortunately the financial implications don't end there. Any keen sports person will be wanting to return to sport as soon as possible. In order to do this, some form of treatment is usually required (e.g. physiotherapy / physical therapy) which doesn't come cheap. Add on equipment such as supports, braces and other rehabilitation equipment (such as resistance bands and wobble boards) and you can easily see how the costs can mount up.
Whilst many sports clubs and organisation's have their own insurance, it is well worth investing in a personal sports injury insurance policy to make sure you are fully covered in the event of injury.
A good sports insurance policy will provide a payout in the event of injury as well as income protection, hospitalisation benefit and cover for treatments such as physiotherapy and dentistry.
There is an inherent risk of injury in any sport. Most participants in sport accept this risk as part and parcel of the activity. Frequently sports injuries are of a relatively minor nature. When a full recovery is made promptly, no-one is normally troubled as to who might be to blame.
However, when a sports person suffers a significant injury, particularly one which has an adverse effect on a career or hobby, then attention often turns to who might be held responsible. It could be another participant, referee, spectator, governing body, local authority, school, the organiser of a sporting holiday or a manufacturer or supplier of sporting goods.
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Why use O’Shea Legal?
As expert accident solicitors we will:
- Help you sort your insurance;
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- Recover lost wages, medical bills, etc
- Remove all the worry and hassle from you.
O’Shea Legal can help you to claim compensation for any sports accident caused by the fault of another person. You will be entitled to claim damages to recover your losses where you can prove negligence (fault) on the part of another person. We have over 25 years expertise in handling sport accident claims and have successfully settled many claims involving all sorts of injuries including back injury, fractured limbs, head injury, scarring, chest injury, post traumatic stress, hand injury, facial injury and very serious injuries such as brain damage, paraplegia and many more.
We understand the trauma you suffer after an accident and we will help you to cope and to remove the worry and stress so that you can concentrate on your recovery. We have a professional team of experts to evaluate all aspects of your accident compensation claim to ensure you get every cent you deserve. We have developed a high level of expertise during many years of settlement negotiations with insurance companies. Therefore we at O’Shea Legal can claim for you the substantial compensation you deserve for your trauma and sports injury happened in Dublin. Have a look at the testimonials from some of our clients below.
What should I do after my accident to protect myself?
Download-‘Important Mistakes To Avoid after an Accident’.
What is my injury worth?
Have a look at our ‘Claims Calculator’- If you have a specific injury which occurred as a result of a sport accident you might want to check our claim calculator page to see how much compensation you are entitled too.
We will assess your claim for free and if you want to file a claim we will process your claim without asking you for fees upfront. We at O’Shea Legal recover most of our fees from the insurance company when a claim is successfully concluded and our priority is to ensure you get maximum compensation.
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Before you do anything else, email us your name and telephone number or call or text us now for your free legal advice on sport accidents. We'll give you our expert opinion and tell you everything you need to know about making an injury claim in Ireland. Its then up to you to decide whether you wish to make a claim. You will be under no obligation or pressure at any time.
So why not get a no obligation fixed fee quote now. You could save a lot of money. If you have questions, why not call or email us now without obligation and we will be happy to answer your queries without charge.
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Eoin, you're more than welcome for the gift. Apart from all the legal matters you dealt with, I really appreciated your patience and understanding.
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