The "Baseball Doctrine" Is Changing


New York sports fans that go to Yankees or Mets games are hoping to get their chance at a foul ball. However, when the foul ball is a screaming line drive, it presents a danger to fans. In the past, fans were without any remedy if they were injured by a foul ball.

Now, courts may possibly be changing the long-held legal doctrine that fans assume the risk of injury when they buy a ticket to a baseball game. The fact that teams are installing protective netting at stadiums shows that there is more of a risk than initially thought and that the teams are beginning to assume the responsibility for preventing these injuries.

California lawsuit may be the sign that this legal doctrine is evolving to fit the times. After a trial court threw out the lawsuit filed on behalf of someone injured at a baseball game because of the "baseball doctrine," an appeals court overturned that verdict. Most courts still shield defendants from liability in this area, but courts may be beginning to re-think that, especially as there is a growing awareness of the danger of foul balls and teams take measures to protect their fans. With protection becoming the norm, there will be scrutiny about the adequacy of the protection that is provided.

Those who have been at a sporting event may now have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. This may extend beyond baseball to sports such as hockey where a projectile is coming into the stands and injures spectators. A personal injury attorney may be able to been hurt as to their legal rights and whether there are grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit. Given the changing law, things may now be different for plaintiffs than they were in the past.