Where Liability Lies in Tailgating Accidents

Tailgating is a time-honored tradition among sports enthusiasts in the United States. However, participants in this recreational activity are at risk of injury or even death. Various parties are held liable when these accidents occur. Many organizations hold tailgating parties, and the law stipulates liability for accidents depending on the circumstances. Some tailgating hosts are trying to protect themselves by creating and enforcing regulations, or barring tailgating altogether. Those who have negligence or wrongful death claims should understand how liability is determined by consulting with an expert. Who May Be Liable for Injuries While Tailgating?  Parties may be liable for various reasons, even though they are all essentially doing the same thing. Stadiums, universities, social clubs, and individuals are all different in the eyes of the law. Negligence, recklessness, assault, and many other tort theories govern how courts determine liability. When tailgating outside of a stadium, injuries can be attributed to a feature of the tailgating area, such as the parking lot. Under the legal theory of premises liability, the owners of stadiums and parking lots may be liable for damages when accidents occur. These parties are also required to have adequate security in place to prevent injuries caused by tailgaters assaulting one another. Universities are legally responsible for injuries that happen during pre-game tailgating. Schools are held to a higher standard than stadiums because of their relationship with the student body. This means they can face higher damages when held responsible for student injuries while on campus. Social clubs like fraternities and sororities may be held responsible for injuries that are caused by accidents at events they sponsor. Social host liability laws, while they may not place liability on hosts for serving minors, do make them liable for injuries incurred by intoxicated individuals. In cases where the club itself cannot be sued, injured parties may be able to sue each member personally. Individuals can also be liable if they caused injuries or failed to prevent them. Whether it is assault and battery after picking a fight with someone while intoxicated or negligence by hitting a tailgater with your car, individuals can be held accountable for their actions while tailgating. How Have Organizations Responded? Stadium and team owners have begun placing limits on tailgating due to tragic accidents that resulted in hefty damages rewards or large settlements. Some Chicago Stadiums do not allow tailgating, but Soldier Field and US Cellular Field allow tailgating under specified conditions. Soldier Field may suspend tailgating indefinitely so Chicago Bears fans, weary of lawsuits caused by irresponsible behavior, have established informal rules of conduct. Higher education institutions around the US have begun to regulate tailgating to limit their liability. Northwestern University has established a permitting system for tailgating and is trying to strike a balance between upholding a cherished tradition for alumni and students and the university’s legal liability for accidents and injuries. Schools in Illinois have varying rules, so check with the college or university prior to making tailgating plans. What to Do if Injured While Tailgating Organizations and sports fans alike are interested in limiting liability in tailgating accidents. When involved in any sort of accident while tailgating it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Maintain all medical records and comply with any and all physicians’ recommendations, particularly tests or other procedures. If you believe you may be due compensation for your injuries sustained while tailgating, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer that can assist you in presenting a strong case.
Categories: Personal injury