Proof of Reckless Conduct Necessary in Sports Injury Claim

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2009 published Opinion of the PA Superior Court overruled a Dauphin County Court decision and permitted a Pennsylvania personal injury claim to go forward.  There was an ice hockey game in Dauphin County PA in an adult “non-checking” league.  Contrary to league rules, a player was checked into the boards and suffered a broken leg.  Multiple surgeries were needed to repair the comminuted femur fracture.

Two rods were inserted to stabilize the fracture site.  His leg is permanently injured, he can’t play sports and he has a permanent scar from the surgeries.  His Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer filed a lawsuit.  In his Deposition, the injury victim testified that the Defendant intentionally lifted up his skate causing him to crash into the boards.  An expert testified that the Defendant’s actions were intended to knock the victim off his feet.

The PA Superior Court ruled that participation in athletic competition is a public policy to be encouraged.  The court acknowledged that some risk of injury is inherent in every game and that litigation should not occur every time a participant negligently causes injury.  However, the appeals court did rule that a Pennsylvania personal injury victim could receive compensation for his/her injuries if the Defendant’s actions were found by the jury to be “reckless”.  Archibald v. Kemble, 971 A.2d 513 (PA Super. 2009)