For there to be civil liability the incident will usually be particularly dangerous or deliberate act. Much will depend on the particular circumstances of the case. A mistimed slide tackle in the wet may look similar to a deliberate high two footed lunge where the player is nowhere near the ball. The former may only be a yellow card offence, the latter may result in a civil claim. It is the serious career threatening injuries that tend to warrant civil action, where that the injured party can claim the losses resulting from having to give up the sport. Footbal injury claims are sometimes brought in the professional game, and in a notable case arising from a tackle in a reserve match in 2003 a Manchester United youngster was so badly injured that he had to give up professional football. He was awarded over £4 million by the High Court in lost earnings as a footballer, the highest award of its type for a professional sportsman. It is not just Premier League footballers that can bring a claim though; the same legal principles apply whatever the level of the game, from professional to amateur, Sunday league and 5 a side football.
Injuries can also be caused by the action or inaction of others. Those who own and control the football pitches and facilities that we all use to play and watch football owe us a duty of care. That duty is to ensure, so far as possible, that the premises are reasonably safe for the people using them. So they will be responsible for a pitch that has pot holes, broken glass or other dangerous defects that they knew about or ought to have known about.
Where injury is caused by a deliberate assault then there may be a claim for footbal injury compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, a government scheme that provides limited recompense for the victims of violent crime, but depending on the circumstances there may also be a claim against the player and/or his club.
Recent case study
Mr L was playing for his regular indoor 5 a side team at the sports hall of a local school. The school were aware – although Mr L was not – that there had been a problem with water leaking from the roof and dripping down onto the floor of the sports hall. So on the evening in question there was a puddle of water on the playing surface and it had not been cleared up.
Shortly after the game started Mr L was running with the ball. There was no other player near him, when he suddenly collapsed. One foot had slipped in the puddle but the other – because of the grip on the soles of his trainers – remained static and force was enough to fracture his tibia and fibula so badly they came through the skin of the lower leg. He needed surgery to plate the fractures and is still not back to playing football. Liability was eventually admitted by the insurers and Mr L is awaiting further medical investigations (MRI scans and x-rays) to determine whether the bones have united and whether he will suffer long term problems with pain and mobility.
Partner Stuart Kightley is a keen footballer and he and colleagues Michael Cockings and Sam Collard are experienced in football injury claims & can act as a footbal injury solicitor. If you have been injured in a football related incident contact us for advise on whether you can be compensatated for your injury.