Especially in the post-Ravens Super Bowl win, Marylanders are fanatic about their sports.  From time to time we field questions about baseball spectator injuries, which are frequently reported in the media and the case law.  In most states, including Maryland, the law is well-settled.

The impetus for this blog post is a recent case from Idaho.  In a not-too-uncommon occurrence, a fan was hit by a foul ball in 2008.  The injury was severe, however, and he lost his eye.  The case went up to the Idaho Supreme Court, which decided that the baseball fan will get his day in court.

At issue is the famous (in legal circles, anyway) Baseball Rule.  The idea is that a fan who purchases a ticket or attends a game cannot sue for injuries sustained by errant balls, unless the injury occurred in in a protected area.  Baseball, according to tradition, has one area directly behind home plate that is protected from foul balls.  Nervous fans can get seats there, and be better protected.  According to the Baseball Rule, a fan anywhere else has no right to complain.  It’s the known risks of watching the game.  In some states, this is all a matter of public policy and common spectator sense.  Other states rely more on the disclaimer language which girds the back of most sporting event tickets.

Per the Idaho Supreme Court, they could have applied the rule, but they want a jury to decide. Part of the rationale is that the state legislature could have easily enacted a rule if they thought it was important. 

Certainly, Idaho is in the minority for letting a jury decide.  The rule of the day for any fan should be safety, however.  Even in that Idaho case, the plaintiff is going to have to convince a jury of his peers that the accident was foreseeable, preventable, and not his own fault.  That’s a tall order. The assumption for any sports fan should be the tort laws likely limit recovery—so sit someplace safe.

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If you have questions after any personal injury accident in Maryland or West Virginia, contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or send us some brief information about your accident to us through our online portal.  We’ll put our expertise to work for you right away.

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