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Toll-free: (877) 944-8396

White and Williams LLP

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Physical Contact Sports and Injuries - Liability of Players

Physical Contact Sports and Injuries – When Can an Injured Player Recover from Another Player Under Pennsylvania Law?


Physical contact sports such as hockey, soccer and football carry inherent risks of injury. Injuries are common. Usually, players will not be held liable for injuries sustained by another player.

For example, in a football game, if one player injures another during a game or practice, the injured player will probably not be able to recover from the other player. 

However, there are circumstances in which an injured player may recover from another player. This article only discusses liability of other players. The injured player may also be able to recover from the organization, sports league, etc. 

Under Pennsylvania law, in order to hold a player liable for causing injuries to another player in a physical contact sport, the injured player must show that the defendant/player acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others, or exceeded the bounds of conduct normal to the sport.

In Pennsylvania, a player acts recklessly if he or she acts or fails to act under circumstances which create an unreasonable risk of harm to another.  Mere negligence is not enough. An injured player will not be able to recover against another player for injuries sustained as a result of a risk inherent in the sport, such as a flying bat or foul ball in baseball or a player who gets pushed in basketball.

Factors important in proving whether a player acted recklessly include:
  • the type of game involved
  • the ages of the players
  • physical attributes of the players
  • average skills of the players
  • players’ knowledge of the rules and customs of the game
  • whether there was a violation of league rules or agreements
  • players’ status as amateurs or professionals
  • the types of risks inherent in the game
  • presence or absence of protective gear

Each sports injury case is unique, with its own set of facts.  It is best to have a qualified, experienced sports injury lawyer review the facts to determine whether a player, organization, product manufacturer, etc. may be liable in a serious injury case. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a sports or recreation accident in the Pennsylvania or New Jersey area, contact the sports accident lawyers at White and Williams for a free, no obligation consultation.  877.944.8396


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