Alberta’s climate allows Albertans to participate year-round in various sports and recreational activities. From hitting the slopes to battling it out on the hockey rink, staying active is a big part of many people’s identity, even if those sports come with inherent risks, such as falls, collisions, and awkward landings. However, it is important to note that there is a difference between a typical sports injury and one caused by negligence.

Sporting accidents can result in serious injuries ranging from scrapes and sprains to fractures or concussions. So, when does a sports injury become a situation where you might have a personal injury claim? 

Injured Player Must Prove the Elements of Negligence 

Whether your injuries resulted from a car accident, trip-and-fall, or sports accident, a personal injury plaintiff must prove the elements of negligence to be successful in their claim. In other words, sustaining an injury does not necessarily mean you have a right to recover compensation, regardless of how the resulting injuries have affected your ability to perform work or daily activities.

In personal injury claims, the basic principles of negligence apply; the injured party must establish several elements to prove they have a claim against the wrongdoer(s). Specifically, a personal injury plaintiff must prove that:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care and was under a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care towards the plaintiff, if it was reasonably foreseeable that their actions could harm the plaintiff;
  • The defendant fell below the standard of care and did not act as a reasonable person in the circumstances would have; and 
  • The defendant’s breach of the standard of care resulted in the plaintiff’s injury.

In a sporting context, these elements may vary and be more difficult to prove. Two types of personal injury claims resulting from a sports injury are discussed in detail below:

Claims Against Other Players

If your sports injury results from an accident caused by another player, you may bring a claim against that player in their capacity. However, this can raise the issue of when a player is considered to have acted negligently and may be found liable for injuries caused to another player in the context of the sport. However, sports come with inherent risks and the expected level of physicality that players are exposed to by participating. For example, a collision with another player may be expected in a football or hockey game. Therefore, it can be difficult to establish a successful claim when an injury is sustained through the accepted play of a sport.

Contributory Negligence by the Injured Player

When claiming another player, the issue of contributory negligence may arise. Essentially, the degree to which the injured player contributed, in whole or in part, to their injury must be determined. If an injured player is found to have contributed to their own injury through their own actions or conduct, a personal injury claim may be difficult to pursue.

Claims Against “Occupiers”

When a sport is played at a sporting facility, and a player sustains an injury, they may be able to commence a personal injury claim under Alberta’s Occupiers’ Liability Act. This legislation imposes a duty on the occupiers and/or owners of a property to ensure that visitors to the premises are safe. In a sports context, an occupier is not necessarily the owner of the property, but the party who is in physical possession of the premises or otherwise has responsibility and control over the premises, the persons permitted to enter the property, and the activities conducted there. A claim may be successful if it can be established that the occupier was negligent, for instance, in relation to faulty structures or equipment.

However, pursuing a personal injury claim may be difficult if the injured player signs a waiver before participating in the sport at a particular facility. 

What Should You Do If You Have Been Injured in a Sports Accident?

If you have been injured in a sports-related incident and someone else’s negligence contributed to your injury, there are important steps to take, including:

  • Seek immediate medication attention: Your health is the top priority after any accident. It is crucial to seek immediate medical care as soon as possible after an accident to obtain a diagnosis and begin treatment to document the extent of your injuries. Keeping a comprehensive and ongoing record of your injuries and symptoms can also be helpful in your recovery, and it may help support your injury claim.
  • Gather evidence of the accident and resulting injury: If possible, document the accident scene, collect witness statements, and keep copies of medical bills and any other relevant documents. 
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer: A personal injury lawyer can review the circumstances of your case and advise you of your legal options. If you move forward with an injury claim, your personal injury lawyer will help you navigate the claims process and legal system complexities.

Final Thoughts on Sports Accidents and Personal Injury Claims

A serious sports accident can significantly impact various aspects of your life, so it is important not to let an injury sideline you from getting the compensation you deserve. Understanding your rights and taking the proper steps can ensure a smoother physical and financial recovery. Injury claims resulting from sporting accidents and injuries can be further complicated with issues relating to contributory negligence and waivers, which is why it is critical to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can assess the circumstances of your case and help you determine whether you may have a claim.

Contact the Calgary Injury Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP for Advice on Your Personal Injury Claims

If you have been injured in a sporting accident, the trusted personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary can advise you on your prospects of succeeding in a claim for compensation. We take the time to understand each client’s circumstances and provide information regarding your rights and options when moving forward with a claim. Please contact us by phone at 403-571-0555 or reach out to us online to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.