Chicago is finally starting to melt away now that the long Winter is coming to an end. People are beginning to get excited by the prospect of spending more time outside, taking in the sun and playing sports on a league with friends. But what happens if you get injured in a Spring adult sports league? Here’s everything you need to know.
Regardless of what spring adult sports league you’re a part of, if it’s a good one, they’ll ask you to sign a liability waiver releasing them from liability if you get injured while playing on their league.
In fact, it’s a pretty big red flag if they don’t ask you to sign a liability waiver – that’s your cue to run, not walk. But assuming that you’ve signed a liability waiver, here’s basically what that means for you:
- You’ve released the company from liability related to accidents that result from assumed risk in playing
- You’ve released the company from liability related to negligence of the provider and other participants, which may include errors or mistakes
Some courts and states will not uphold a liability waiver in any situation. There are a couple different elements that can get a company in trouble if not spelled out correctly, or can void a liability waiver entirely:
- Poorly written, in that the liability waiver is not clear or completely ambiguous
- Unequal bargaining power, which basically means that the party asking for a signature is completely dominant in the situation (like a coach requiring a signature from players). Most courts will argue that if the activity is not required, it’s definitely enforceable.
- Inconspicuous language. Language must be obvious to the signer with no surprises. Also, a liability waiver should be a standalone document, not part of something else (like a membership application).
- Not spelling out inherent risks of participating
For more information on previous cases of liability in sports (and how they turned out) and general guidelines regarding liability waivers, read UsLegal’s guide to the subject.
Even when written correctly, what most liability waivers do not protect companies from is liability for injuries caused by gross negligence.
So what’s the difference between negligence and gross negligence?
What do you expect to get injured from in a spring adult sports league?
If you’re playing softball, you might expect to get hit with an errant ball, trip while running the bases, or collide with someone on the field.
The fact of the matter is that if you’re playing a sport, you’re probably going to get injured. The question here is relating to who’s at fault, and whether gross negligence occurred.
Think about gross negligence in terms of how you shouldn’t expect to get injured while playing in a spring adult sports league.
Here are some scenarios that would fall in line with gross negligence on behalf of the company running the league:
- Failure to inspect the field before play, and a player is injured on something sharp or dangerous while running
- Failure to call off a game during a thunderstorm where injury results
- Failure to dismiss a player who has had too much to drink and poses a threat to other players
Please note: this list is merely meant to provide examples and isn’t exhaustive.
If something doesn’t feel right when playing in a spring adult sports league and you get injured, you may have a case for personal injury.
Charles Therman and the team at Therman Law Offices handle many similar cases in Chicago, and know the in’s and out’s of what’s enforceable in terms of a liability waiver, and what constitutes gross negligence.
Are you in a Spring adults sports league? Have you ever had a questionable experience? Let us know in the comments!