Are You Entitled To Anything If You Get Hit By A Foul Ball?

Professional baseball has been a major sport in the United States for over a century. As NPR News explains, back in the late 1800s, baseball clubs would compete against each other and fans would crowd around the field to watch. Soon enough, the clubs' managers realized they could charge people for the privilege, and before long, an industry was born. 

In the 140 or so years people have been paying to attend baseball games, they've done so with the knowledge that, throughout the course of the game, balls and bats may fly into the stands. These days, the teams take measures to mitigate the risk, such as putting up nets in the places where the danger is greatest, but those protective measures only go so far, and fans know that they're taking a risk, however slight, of being injured by a flying ball or bat. If you happen to be severely injured by a flying bat or ball while at a baseball game, well, you're pretty much on your own.

Assumed risk

When you purchase a ticket to a Major League Baseball game, according to Mental Floss, you are undertaking what courts have called an "assumed risk." That means you're taking your seat in the stands with the knowledge that a foul ball or flying bat may very well injure you, and if you do get injured, legally it's your responsibility since you knew what you were getting into. Further, disclaimers on the back of your paper ticket spell this out for you in exacting detail. Long story short — if you're injured by a foul ball or a flying bat while at a baseball game, you'd better have good insurance, because the team isn't going to pay for it.

That doesn't mean that you're completely out of luck, however. If your injuries are severe enough, and if the player who sent the ball or bat into your body is guilt-ridden enough, you may get some swag and even a hospital visit from a professional athlete. As Gothamist notes, back in 2011 Miami Marlins player Greg Dobbs sent a foul ball into the stands, which conked a young boy in the head so forcefully that the lad was hospitalized for several days. Dobbs visited him in the hospital and gave him autographed merchandise. Is that worth being hospitalized with a head injury? No, but at least there's a silver lining.