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Splintered Bats, Assumption of risk, and You

  • Published: June 11, 2015

Within the past week, at least three incidents of broken baseball bats flying into the stands during Major League Baseball games have occurred. In the most serious incident, a woman sitting between home plate and third base in the second row of stands was struck by the barrel of a shattered bat and rushed off to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for treatment. So who can be held responsible?

In California, the answer may well be no one. Most tickets come with some variation of the following language: “The holder of this ticket voluntarily assumes all risks and danger of property loss and personal injury incidental to the game of baseball and related activities at including specifically the danger of being injured by thrown or flying objects including bats and balls.”

Now that isn’t an absolute defense to the park. They can still be held responsible for gross negligence and in certain other limited circumstances, but it makes a claim for this sort of incident much more difficult to pursue. Spectators at these sorts of games will often be deemed to have “assumed the risk” of these types of incidents. That means that if you are going to sit in the coveted spots near home plate, it’s your job to protect yourself. Don’t just keep your eye on the ball–keep your eye on the bat too.