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Law Protects Baseball Teams from Spectator Injury Lawsuits

Posted on in Personal Injury

Law Protects Baseball Teams in Spectator Injury LawsuitsA suburban Chicago man has filed a negligence lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs after a foul ball hit him while he was attending a game in August, making him blind in his left eye. This is not the first personal injury case that a spectator has brought against the Cubs or other baseball teams. Initially, it seems that there could be a strong basis for claiming negligence:

  • There is protective netting behind the plate, but most of the injuries occur in areas along the foul lines that are not protected;
  • Hit balls travel at such high velocities that it can be difficult for a person to react, even if he or she is paying attention; and
  • With the history of spectator injuries, baseball teams are aware of this danger but have not taken enough preventive measures.

Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, there is a very low success rate with these lawsuits. Legislation specifically protects operators of baseball stadiums from liability in most cases.

Baseball Rule

Illinois has a law called the Baseball Facility Liability Act, which states that the owner or operator of a baseball facility is not liable for spectator injuries caused by a ball or bat, unless:

  • The spectator was injured because of the owner’s negligence in providing and maintaining the protective screen in the required area; or
  • The injury resulted from the willful conduct of the owner or any of the participants in the game.

When following a strict interpretation of this law, spectators who are not behind a protective netting essentially have no grounds to sue facility owners for personal injury compensation. Illinois has a similar law applying to hockey facilities.


Baseball teams also try to protect themselves from personal injury lawsuits by including a disclaimer on their tickets. For instance, the Cubs’ tickets have a “waiver and release of liability,” which states that the ticket holder:

  • Understands and assumes the risk of being a spectator, including personal injury or death;
  • Is responsible for the safety of any minors in attendance with him or her;
  • Agrees to remain alert to the action on the field, so as to avoid injury; and
  • Waives the right to sue the facility owner and its associates for any personal injury.

Difficult Case

With the law in place and tacit agreement to waive liability, plaintiffs bear a heavy burden of proof in order to win personal injury lawsuits against baseball teams. Any time you are injured on someone else’s property, you need to consider what responsibility the property owner held and what risk you assumed. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can determine when a property owner was negligent in his or her responsibility, causing your injury. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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