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Personal injury lawyers say take me out to the ballgame, but cheer at your own risk.

A century old rule, dubbed the “baseball rule” has protected ballpark owners and operators from any responsibilities for injuries due to foul balls or shattered bats. As long as the stadium has netted or screened seats for the appropriate seats, the rule stands.
“This means the spectator is responsible for their own safety and must remain alert during the game,” explains a Phoenix personal injury attorney. “Fans who choose to sit in certain seats where they could be hit with a foul ball or a shard of a broken bat take on a certain duty.”
The risk is inevitable due to the nature of the sport. Many fans find is part of the fun: the unknown, hearing the crack of a bat and the whizz of a fastball. It is part of the majesty of America’s past time.

This rule makes any notion of a personal injury lawsuit almost laughable. While a majority of people are advocates of the rule, there are some that argue against it.
The legitimacy of the rule was most recently put into the spotlight with the case of 44-year-old Tonya Carpenter. Carpenter was attending a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park when she was seriously injured by a broken baseball bat. Seated near the visitor’s dugout at the third base line, Carpenter was hit by a bat shard after Oakland Athletics’ player, Brett Lawrie connected with a fastball.

The ‘baseball rule’ has made it far-fetched for Carpenter to seek legal action against Fenway park. Warnings are plastered around the ballpark and even printed on tickets. Carpenter was responsible to be watching the game and keeping an eye out for dangers.
Opponents of the rule believe it is time for a change.

“The game has changed from a century ago when the rule was instated,” explains a Phoenix personal injury attorney. “ Balls are thrown and hit faster. Bats are now made out of maple, which players prefer but leads to more injuries.”

Others argue that even if you are paying attention to the game, there is not enough time to react. A ball that has been hit reaches the stands in a matter of mere seconds. Most people don’t react fast enough to catch the ball or protect themselves from getting hit.

A number of court cases have shown the power of the ‘baseball rule.’ Judges rule in favor of the ballparks, even though the plaintiff may have suffered serious injuries.
There are those unique cases where a judge has refused to uphold the ‘baseball rule.’
In September 2009, Kansas City Royals mascot Sluggerr threw a hot dog into the stand and hit spectator, John Coomer in the eye. Coomer sought legal action against the Royals’ stadium owners. The judge sent the case to a jury trial, noting his decision to not follow the ‘baseball rule.’

“In the past, this Court has held that spectators cannot sue a baseball team for injuries caused when a ball or bat enters the stands,” Judge Wilson said in his decision. But, he added, “The risk of being injured by Sluggerrr’s hot dog toss, on the other hand, is not an unavoidable part of watching the Royals play baseball.”

Another case that did not enforce the ‘baseball rule’ happened in the Idaho Supreme Court in 2013. Bud Rountree was watching a Chicago Cubs game. He left his seat that was protected by a net to talk to someone in an unprotected area for a short moment. During that conversation, he was hit with a foul ball. As a result of his injuries, Rountree lost an eye.
Despite the argument that the ‘baseball rule’ needs to change with the times, the rule continues to stand. Without this protection, the homes of America’s favorite past time would be vulnerable to legal action that could devastate these ballparks.

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