Sports Injuries – when can you claim for compensation?

Posted May 26, 2018.
Most sports played in the UK, by their very nature, involve varying degrees of physical activity, exertion, contact and risk. As sport also encourages its participants to push themselves physically, and consequently, injuries are likely at some point. 

It is obvious that some sports present a higher risk of injury than others – eg: extreme skiing or martial arts – and consequently, there are higher inherent risk factors involved. Sports more likely to involve bodily injury are often team sports, such as rugby and football, where there are many players involved in the same physical activity, all in close proximity to each other and often moving at speed, resulting in higher error of judgement scenarios. Having said this, other seemingly ‘safer’ sports such as running and cycling, or simply going to the gym for a workout, all have varying levels of injury risk.

Accidental injuries vs Compensable injuries

Sports injuries can be divided into 2 main groups – those that are accidental and part of the accepted risk of playing the sport, and those that are compensable – that is, compensation could be available:

Accidental injuries are the most common, and indeed some sports have specific names for injuries such as tennis elbow. Such injuries are generally deemed to be an accepted part of participating in the sport and are rarely compensable. 
Compensable injuries occur when an injury is suffered through someone else’s negligence, where the cause was a result of acting outside the rules or laws of the sport.

Examples of sports injury claims where compensation may be available

If it is clear that an injury has been caused by someone else’s fault, be they an individual or an organisation (such as a sports club or venue), there is usually insurance in place to cover the risk of players and participants being injured. Examples include:

Poorly maintained equipment or unsafe playing surfaces, pitches and surrounding areas
Poor instruction from staff in the use of equipment
Dangerous play by fellow participants in a sport, outside of the accepted and agreed  rules and standards of conduct
Organisers or referees / umpires not taking adequate steps to help prevent injuries in the first place

How to make a sports injury claim

If you have suffered an injury that wasn’t your fault whilst engaged in a sporting activity, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation both for the injury itself, and for additional inconvenience, rehabilitation, out of pocket expenses and loss of earnings if the injury means you are unable to work. Immediately following the injury, you should:

Get medical attention – this may be from your GP for less serious injuries, or a hospital / A&E department for more serious injuries. In both cases, as well as receiving appropriate medical treatment, a formal record will also be kept of your injuries which is vital when making your claim.
Get contact details for any witnesses to your accident
Photographs – pictures of faulty equipment, poorly maintained playing surfaces, etc, can make a big difference when making a successful claim. 
Receipts – keep evidence of all expenses related to your injury

Next steps – speak to an injury lawyer for advice. One of the highly experienced team here at Bakers will be happy to discuss your specific circumstances and can advise you further with regards to your claim, its prospects of success and also how much compensation you may be entitled to.