Mesa AZ | Personal Injury attorney Brian T. Allen answers the following question:
Q: I was attending a baseball tournament with my family a few weeks ago. The tournament was at a really nice set of fields with stadium-type seating. We were sitting behind home plate, up pretty high. During one of the games, I was hit by a foul ball. There was a backstop and a net in between home plate and us but the ball nonetheless found its way to me and hit me on the head. I was actually hurt pretty bad, and I had to go to the hospital for treatment. I am now considering a lawsuit to seek compensation for my injury; it should not have been possible for a foul ball to hit me. I think the baseball field was not sufficiently safe for spectators. Can I bring a personal injury claim against the owner of the baseball field alleging the field was unsafe?
A: A successful personal injury claim against the owner of the baseball field will be a difficult task. Here’s why:
Certain Arizona laws expressly limit or expand liability for injuries beyond the “normal” (so-to-speak) standards. For example, one law expands dog owners’ liability for injuries from bites by their dogs. Other laws limit the liability of public employees or public entities under certain circumstances.
Arizona Revised Statutes Title 12, Chapter 5, Section 554 severely limits the liability of the owners of baseball facilities in situations like yours. The relevant part of the law reads as follows:
An owner is not liable for injuries to spectators who are struck by baseballs, baseball bats or other equipment used by players during a baseball game unless the owner either:
1. Does not provide protective seating that is reasonably sufficient to satisfy expected requests.
2. Intentionally injures a spectator.
This section does not prevent or limit the liability of an owner who fails to maintain the premises of the baseball stadium in a reasonably safe condition.
From what you have indicated, the owner of the baseball field did not injure you intentionally. So, we can eliminate that option. That leaves two options: (1) prove that the owner did not provide sufficient protective seating; or (2) prove that the owner failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
To prove that the owner did not provide sufficient protective seating, we need to know what the law is referring to when it says “protective seating.” The law’s definitions section indicates that:
“Protective seating” means either:
(a) An area in which a screen to prevent a ball or bat from entering the seating area exists between the spectator and the playing field.
(b) An area that is reasonably safe for the avoidance of injuries from baseballs, baseball bats or other equipment used by players during a baseball game.
From the law’s definition, it looks like a court or a jury would likely find that the baseball field you were at did have “protective seating.” You mentioned that there was a backstop and a net between you and home plate, meaning that you were probably sitting in an area “in which a screen to prevent a ball or bat from entering the seating area exists.” Of course, you may still be able to prove that the screen was not reasonably sufficient, but without more facts I cannot speak to your chance of success on that front.
I would also need more facts to discuss whether you could prove that the owner failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. You would likely need evidence along the lines of holes in the screen, that part of the screen was down at the time you were hit, that the screen was not high enough, etc.
You can see from the above that it will be very difficult to bring a successful claim against the owner of the baseball field. However, this type of law typically has exceptions. Such exceptions could come from the law itself, other laws, or from Arizona court precedent. If you do plan on bringing a personal injury claim against the owner of the baseball field, seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with this law and the exceptions that might apply to your specific case.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Hit By A Foul Ball, or any other personal injury, please feel free to contact Brian T. Allen at 480.461.5335, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.