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    "If you've been injured through no fault of your own you could be entitled to compensation. If you're unsure if you could claim, I recommend you call Accident Advice Helpline."

    Esther Rantzen

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    When a sports injury is more than part of play

    When a sports injury is more than part of play

    Sports injury is a touchy area of the law relating to compensation. Often it can be difficult to prove whether or not the actions that lead to an injury are deliberately disproportionate or merely part of normal play.

    Some sport is just inherently dangerous – of that there can be no doubt. This week a leading sports journal has concluded that protective headgear worn by rugby players during matches does little to protect against brain and spinal injury, although it maybe protect against scalp lacerations and facial damage.

    Dr Michael Cusimano has called for greater awareness of the implications of poor and undisciplined tackling on the sports field, telling Neurosurgery journal that “(Educational) strategies should be made available to all rugby players so that these athletes can spend more time playing on the field than recovering off of the field.”

    An American footballer has recently been in the news after a spinal injury has, for the time being, rendered him quadriplegic. Eric LeGrand, a defensive tackle for Rutgers University, was left paralysed from the neck down after a tackle went wrong. This follows a spate of brain injuries suffered by American football players in recent months and the resultant call for improved safety has prompted the consideration of new safety measures.

    Over here in England, one proponent for greater safety in sport is a man who himself suffered a fractured skull during a game of football – Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech clashed with Reading’s Stephen Hunt during the first minute of a league match at Reading’s home ground on 14th October 2006. Although Cech was conscious after the tackle, it later transpired that his injury was potentially life-threatening. To this day, four years later, he wears a specially-constructed skull cap to protect himself.

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    When a sport injury can invoke the law

    These injuries may be seen as part of normal play, but there is a point at which the law could become involved – there is a difference between a bad tackle and a malicious one. Take also the example of motor racing – arguably the most dangerous of all – drivers get hurt all the time because they accept that what they are doing is dangerous. But if something happens due to negligence, then things are different.

    Look at the death of F1 champion Ayrton Senna in 1994. Personnel from the Williams team that built his car were prosecuted because it was alleged their negligence in preparing his car led to his fatal crash, not a mistake from the driver.

    Most people won’t become an F1 driver or a Premiership footballer. But if they are injured playing sport, as difficult as it may be, it is not impossible to be compensated for any injuries.

    If it can be proved that the organisers of the game or event in which you were participating were negligent in some way, or if the ground or venue was somehow in dangerous condition, then there may be a valid case.

    Date Published: November 4, 2010

    Author: David Brown

    Accident Advice Helpline (or AAH) is a trading style of Slater Gordon Solutions Legal Limited. Slater Gordon Solutions Legal Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with registration number 07931918, VAT 142 8192 16, registered office Dempster Building, Atlantic Way, Brunswick Business Park, Liverpool, L3 4UU and is an approved Alternative Business Structure authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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