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Injuries occur during sporting activities all of the time, however, if the injury sustained was as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. This could include injuries sustained during a sporting event, as well as injuries sustained during training or practice sessions.

Another player could be held liable for a sporting injury if they were reckless or intentionally caused the injury. An example of this is in the case of Czernuszka v King, in which the court found that a rugby tackle that resulted in the Claimant’s paraplegia was not an error of judgment but was intentional and was “committed without concern for the claimant’s safety”. It is important to note that players will not be held liable if the tackle was a normal part of the game rather than an intentional or reckless action.

In some cases, it may be another player that causes the injury, but the club that they play for can be held liable rather than the player himself. In Collett v Smith & Middlesborough FC, Ben Collett sustained a fractured tibia and fibula of his right leg following a high tackle from Gary Smith. Collett chose to pursue Middlesbrough FC arguing that they were liable for their employee’s actions. For professionals such as Ben Collett, it is not uncommon for injuries to be career-ending, therefore resulting in a loss of future earnings which can be claimed for within a personal injury claim.

Referees are tasked with enforcing the rules of the game and ensuring that the game is played safely. Although the court recognises that referees could not reasonably be expected to avoid errors of judgment and oversights in fast moving games, referees may be held liable if they fail to take action to prevent an injury that was clearly avoidable. This was demonstrated in the case of Smoldon v Whitworth and Nolan in which the referee of a rugby match was held liable after the scrum had repeatedly collapsed but the referee did not identify any foul play before a player was injured when the scrum collapsed once again.

Elizabeth Larner 20

How can we help?

Personal injury claims can be challenging in a sporting context due to the inherent risks associated with most sports, and participants are generally assumed to have voluntarily accepted those risks. This does not mean however, that the law does not apply to sport, and you may be able to claim compensation if you have suffered an injury during a sporting activity as a result of someone else’s negligence.   

Our specialist solicitors can discuss your injury with you and recommend the best next steps. Hannah Goodman is a Paralegal in the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team, we also have a Sports Law team who can help.


Hannah Goodman – Paralegal 

If you need help with this issue contact Hannah or one of our specialists today [email protected]

call 01803 225159

[email protected]

See information on our Sports Law Division here 

Legal Services For Professional Sportsmen And Sportswomen (wollens.co.uk)