Sports accidents

Most of us have been injured playing sport at some time. It is, after all, part and parcel of what to expect. In some cases sports injuries are  just bad luck, a genuine accident that is part and parcel of playing an enjoyable physical game.

There are though injuries which, if the rules of the game or the law of the land had been properly observed, would have been avoided.  Any injures caused recklessly or deliberately, following a flagrant violation of the law, will clearly result in liability to pay compensation.

Where a tackle or an action which inflicted the injury is simply careless, then deciding whether compensation will be awarded can be harder to decide.

Players and Participents

In contact sports, injuries are caused by opponents.  How many footballers have had crutiate ligaments damaged by hard tackles?  How many rugby players have had ribs broken by opponents driving them backwards in an extremely violent manner? How many  Boxers have been deliberately knocked unconscious?

The answer is that these injuries occur in sporting contests up and down the country every weekend.  The overwhelming majority of these injuries occur within the rules of the game.  By volunteering to take part, a player takes it upon himself to accept the risk of incidental injuries.

What happens, however, when the injury is inflicted arises from a savage blow out of all proportion to the occasion? What of the footballer who suffers a fractured leg caused by a vicious two footed tackle? The rugby player with a broken jaw after being punched by an opponent on the blind side of the ref?  The boxer knocked out by a blow delivered after the bell whilst walking back to his corner?

All such injuries are inflicted outside of the rules of the game as a result of careless, reckless or deliberate acts. The actions might even be contrary to the criminal law. Punches certainly my be, meaning the perpetrator could be prosecuted and punished.

In many cases it will not be clear what has happened and whether the rules have been complied with. These incidents must be examined carefully to decide what the prospects of success are. The match officials, spectators and team members may have to be interviewed. Any film must be preserved and analysed.

What about injuries suffered in games where there is no physical contact between players? There are many sports where the participants accept a high level of risk of injury. Golf, for example, produces the highest ball speed of any ball sports. Anyone struck by a golf ball is at risk of serious injury.


Injuries can also be caused by referees. Referring a keenly contested sporting event is very demanding. However, the man in the middle owes the players a duty of care to take action to prevent foreseeable injuries.

A leading case is that of Ben Smolden. Ben was playing for his school in an U18 rugby match. Ben was a prop forward, playing against a much bigger and stronger boy. In the first half the scrum collapsed 19 times. It was plain Ben could not keep the scrum up and that his opponent was driving him into the ground. The referee did nothing to prevent this. Early in the second half, a scrum collapsed and Ben broke his neck, resulting in paralysis. The referee was held responsible for not applying the rules of the game which would have prevented the injury.


The organisers and owners of grounds also have to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of spectators. Visitors have the same basic legal rights as anyone visiting a building such as a shop, garage or school.

If you have suffered a sporting injury, contact us now. We are waiting for your call.







Grounds and Stadiums