You’ll have seen in the news recently, plenty of stories regarding professional athletes suffering particularly bad injuries, affecting their careers. Stories making the most headlines include Luke Shaw’s leg break playing in the Champions League for Manchester United, Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin being forced to retire from rugby union as a result of a concussion and potential changes to the rules for the Rugby World Cup to lower the risk of concussions. While all these instances happened at the top level of sports, they are quite relevant to non professionals who suffer injuries during a sporting event in their own lives.
Luke Shaw suffered a serious injury in a recent game, potentially affecting the rest of his career
Governing bodies in sports
Injuries in sports can come as a result of more than just foul play or an accident like tackling. Everything about a competitive sports environment must be regulated to ensure that all who are taking part are as safe as they can be. This goes for any level.
Each sport and country has governing bodies, all insured and all with rules to keep serious injuries to a minimum. Even sports involving heavy contact, such as fighting sports like boxing, kickboxing and MMA, all have governing bodies to regulate participation.
Rules set out by these organisations will always state how a game must be played, the environment to be played in and the facilities required to meet the standards necessary for players, officials and any spectators. This is fundamental for any sport to reduce accidents on or off the playing surface. Failing to meet these standards can result in liability if an accident does occur. This applies down to the lowest tiers of sporting activity, including playing for teams on a local park.
Sporting Injuries to the non pro
Using the example of a Sunday league football team, the playing surface is most likely to be either a public recreational area, such as a local park, which is kept by a council, or a rented private playing field owned by a landlord. The state of the pitch is in the hands of the owners. Should it be improperly cared for or poorly maintained, it could result in injury, for which the pitch owner is liable.
Cases of serious injury in these settings have previously included players falling on glass that had been discarded and even in one case (one of our own) a player committing to a tackle and hitting a stump of a former goalpost, which seriously damaged his leg.
In all levels of any sport, contact or none, there will always be guidelines to follow, whether you are part of a team, alone, officiating or a spectator. If these guidelines are breached and have caused you a serious injury, you would be within your right to seek justice for what could have been prevented.
Am I protected?
What many sporting bodies can provide, as a minimum, is insurance when you register with them. There are usually insurance guarantees by becoming a member of an organisation. If you were to be injured performing in that sport, you would able to receive some form of compensation. However, there are usually caveats to every policy and you may find your injury falls outside the realms of what the organisation will provide should you get injured. They also often do not provide the same insurance benefits for officials and spectators.
With injuries in sport, as with any other serious injury, if you are unfortunate and sustain a preventable injury during participation, down to another player, unsafe practices, the condition of the surface, facilities or other as a result of a negligent action, you are protected.
A claim for negligence can be brought against any person responsible for a preventable injury within a sporting activity. Sincere Law have experienced many cases involving faulty equipment, poor surfaces and dangerous actions during a game, which has resulted in somebody suffering a serious injury.
Sporting injuries aren’t always as the result of foul play, whatever injury occurs, if somebody is negligent then you can take action!
Aftermath of sporting injuries
Dependent on the severity, a sporting injury can have life changing effects. At the top levels of sport athletes have better access to physiotherapy and guaranteed contracts, which assist their recovery when injured. At the grass roots levels of sport this is not as easily accessible.
When a person is injured participating in sport at grass roots level, they can suffer the same common injuries as those at the top levels including:
- Broken limbs
- Torn muscles
- Strained muscles
- Eye injuries
Unfortunately, for most of us, we don’t have the time or resources to commit our lives to rehabbing an injury as sports professionals have. We have jobs, families and lives to lead, so the resulting injuries may take longer to heal or even completely affect our future, as our bodies are not adapted to recover as a top sportsman would be.
Using an example of a broken leg in football, it is a common saying on the terraces that a player is usually “never the same player” after recovering from a broken leg. While a player may return and play regularly after their recovery, it is often found that players will struggle to compete at exactly the same level and begin to drop down divisions much quicker than a normal aging professional would do. Even with the advantages of dedicated physiotherapy, time to train or gaining match time in reserve games, a player will likely still not perform the same and could even be mentally affected when they rejoin the sport full time.
Compare the above example with a member of the public, not trained specifically for that sport to play professionally, with a job, a household to maintain and a regular income. The same situation can easily transform into a more long term, costly situation. Not having access to as an extensive a physiotherapy regime, an average person’s injury may not fully recover and could even hamper their movements in future life, possibly halting involvement in their favourite sports.
A serious sporting injury can also require time off work if the injury renders them housebound, in some cases needing care or assistance around the house. These are costs which the average person may not be able to foot. If their injuries are as a result of negligence while playing sports, they are able to get help in the form of compensation.
Athletes have the ability to utilise top physiotherapy for an extended time unlike the general public
My next steps
If you have experienced an injury during a sporting event as a result of a negligent action (and remember, it isn’t always about tackling or even being a participant), then you have the ability to claim for your losses, including time away from work, lifestyle adaptations, medical bills and other associated costs.
Sincere Law are specialists in serious injury claims and we know sporting injuries can often be life changing. We have a team of dedicated solicitors waiting to talk to you, offering free, impartial advice and we are able to walk you through the claims process.
Your first step following a sports injury is to get in touch and see what we can do for you. You can talk to us either by calling 0800 092 2896, texting us on 89298 or by filling in our contact form here. We pride ourselves on being open and honest about what we can do for you with no pressure. We also offer a ‘no win no fee’ service removing your risk from starting a claim.