Those that participate in sports are well aware that there is an inherent danger, especially for those taking part in high speed or contact sports, such as hockey, rugby, football and soccer. However, when an individual becomes injured as a result of actions that are not part of the “normal play” expected of the game, the injured person may be entitled to compensation from the individual responsible for the injuries.
In a recent Ontario decision, a recreational hockey player that intentionally blind-sided another player was found legally responsible for the injuries, including pain and suffering, past and future income loss and the impact that the injuries have had on the injured player’s life.
On March 15, 2012, Drew Casterton (“Casterton”) collided with Gordon MacIsaac (“MacIsaac”) during the last minute of a recreational hockey game. Casterton was knocked down, hit his head on the ice and briefly lost consciousness. He suffered numerous injuries as a result of the incident and commenced a lawsuit against MacIsaac claiming for damages for the impact on his personal life, his career and his relationships. Casterton made his claim for general damages for pain and suffering, past and future income loss, and punitive damages.
At trial, MacIsaac maintained that the collision was accidental and denied all responsibility for Casterton’s injuries. MacIsaac also argued that Casterton was partially to blame for the collision and that the damages Casterton was claiming for were excessive.
The trial judge, Justice Sally Gomery, determined that the three questions to be answered were:
- Is MacIsaac liable for injuries suffered by Casterton during the March 2012 game?
- Was Casterton contributorily negligent for the injuries he suffered?
- What are the damages suffered by Casteron as a result of the injuries?
In light of the evidence presented at trial, Justice Gomery concluded that MacIsaac, a defenceman, had deliberately skated toward Casterton at a high rate of speed and at an angle where Casterton could not see him. Gomery characterized the hit as either “deliberate or reckless”. Gomery concluded that MacIsaac was liable to Casterton for his injuries for failing to meet the standard of care of a hockey player in the circumstances. Gomery did not find any negligence on Casterton.
Every player who testified stated that a blindside hit to the face, is and was, outside the bounds of fair play. They have no place in recreational play, or in any hockey game.
In agreeing to play hockey, a player implicitly consents to a risk of injury inherent to a fast-paced and sometimes physically violent sport. This includes the risk that a player may suffer injury, even serious injury, from bodily contact with another player during normal gameplay. But a player’s implicit consent is not unlimited. A player does not accept the risk of injury from conduct that is malicious, out of the ordinary or beyond the bounds of fair play. In deciding whether this contact meets that test, relevant considerations include the type of league in which the game was played, the level of play in the league, the applicable rules, and the nature of the game.
DAMAGES AWARDED AT TRIAL
Casterton suffered a concussion, two broken teeth and various facial cuts as a result of the hockey incident with MacIsaac. He was prevented from working for four months and returned to work part-time in June or July 2012. He continues to experience headaches, fatigue and intolerance for social situations.
The court recognized the seriousness of a concussion and the impact that it had on Casterton’s life. The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that he was “a different person” than he was before the concussion. The court found that, as a result of the hockey incident, his functional and cognitive impairments and limitations impaired his social skills and limited his ability to work. Justice Gomery held that “[h]e has never returned to the life he enjoyed prior to the March 15, 2012 game.”
Casterton was awarded $702,551 in damages. This was broken down as $63,000 for general damages, $199,512 for past lost income and $440,039 for future income loss.
Justice Gomery did not find that MacIsaac’s conduct required punitive damages and noted that the goals of punitive damages, including punishment, denunciation and deterrence, have been met. McIsaac has not returned to any recreational hockey league, has been tried twice for assault and has paid $10,000 in restitution to Casterton.
At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers we are committed to helping you and your loved ones. If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid claim. It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 to arrange for an initial free consultation with one of Calgary’s award winning personal injury lawyers.Return to Blog