Can injured people sue if they were doing something dangerous?

1925-JM-Fall-General-Practice-newsletterPa-200x300Sometimes people choose to engage in activities that are somewhat dangerous. If they get hurt, they might not be able to be compensated for their injuries, because they knew they were taking a risk.

But that’s not always true – and if you or someone you know was injured in a dangerous activity, you should still talk with an attorney. For instance, it might turn out that an activity was risky, but that someone else did something careless that increased the danger.

Here’s an example: A spectator was hit by a golf ball at a tournament in Wyoming. The spectator had been watching his son putt on the first hole, when he was struck on the side of the head by a pro golfer’s tee shot on the same hole.

A judge threw out the man’s lawsuit against the tournament organizers, saying that getting hit by a ball is an inherent risk of golf.

But the Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed, and allowed the man to sue. It turned out that the pro golfer had expressed concern to a tournament official about people on the green, but the official told him to tee off anyway.

So even though golf is dangerous, the organizers could be held responsible if the tournament official had carelessly increased the danger by ordering the man to hit a
tee shot.

In another case in Omaha, two sisters went sledding on a hill in a municipal park. Both girls were injured when their saucer-style sled struck a tree bordering the slope. Tragically, the younger girl suffered a severe spinal fracture that left her paralyzed.

The girls’ parents sued the city, claiming it was negligent in planting trees in the area shortly before the accident, despite warnings by local residents that it was a popular sledding hill.

The city argued that sledding was naturally dangerous. But the Nebraska Supreme Court said the city could be sued anyway, if its actions had carelessly increased the level of danger.