Nicolet Law Office, S.C.

The Liability of a Foul Ball

As the leaves begin to fall, the post-season of America's favorite pastime gains momentum as fans pack stadiums across the country to catch a glimpse of post-season history. But for some fans, the excitement of a game is crushed when a ball comes off the bat only to hit someone in the stands. When this tragedy occurs, the question asked is, "Who is liable?" Unfortunately, that answer is not a simple one.

Assumption of Risk

When you enter a baseball stadium, you assume a number of risks, most of which are outlined on the back of your ticket. These risks are printed on each ticket to protecting the stadium, teams, and players from lawsuits when a foul ball hits someone in the stands. In order for that injured fan to recover in a lawsuit, they would need to prove that the stadium was negligent. They must show that (1) the stadium had a duty to take reasonable care to protect its patrons; (2) the stadium violated their duty; and (3) the stadium's violation led to the injuries you received. While a foul ball does not generally fall into this, the injured fan would recover if they could show the stadium failed to maintain the facility, netting or other fan protections.

The Baseball Rule and Extended Stadium Netting

A long-established legal principle called "The Baseball Rule", prohibits a fan injured by a baseball or shards of a broken bat, from making a claim against the team or the owner of a stadium. But with the occurrence of injuries this season, many players and teams have renewed the argument to extend the protective netting to cover the area from foul pole to foul pole. A vast majority of stadiums only maintain netting to the team dugouts. Unfortunately, the Major League Baseball rules and current collective bargaining agreement do not require teams to extend the netting to the foul poles. A decision like this is made on a stadium by stadium basis. While a small number of stadiums have taken steps to extend protective netting past the dugouts, a vast majority of stadiums have not.

While the argument to extend the safety netting continues to unfold, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself while at a game. Most importantly, put the cell phone down and focus on the game. We are more distracted than ever by our cell phones and this distraction causes us to look away from the field of play and that potential ball headed into your seating section. By focusing on the field of play, you not only learn more about the game, but you protect yourself by being aware of what may be coming.

Awards & Recognition

Our peers and independent third-party organizations have recognized the hard work and dedication we put into every case. This has led to numerous awards and accolades.

  1. Rated By Super Lawyers | Russel D. Nicolet
    Super Lawyers Rising Stars
    Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb | Top Attorney Personal Injury Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb | Top Attorney Bankruptcy
  2. The American Association of Legal Advocates Wisconsin Association for Justice BBB Accredited Business - A+
  3. Minnesota State Bar Association American Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin
  4. BV Distinguished | Lexis Nexis | Martindale-Hubbell | For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability The National Trial Lawyers Million Dollar Advocates Forum

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Contact us today for a free consultation where you will speak directly with one of our attorneys. We are conveniently located for your accessibility, with offices in Hudson, Eau Claire, and five other cities throughout the region. If your condition prevents you from coming to one of our offices, we will happily meet with you at your home or another location that is comfortable for you.

Call Us: 800-456-6956

  • In Wisconsin, call: 715-802-0872
  • In Minnesota, call: 651-243-2872

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