Once struck by a bat, a baseball can travel over 100 miles an hour. A horrifying scene took place last week during a game between the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs when a foul ball hit a four-year-old girl sitting in the stands. The incident has sparked a conversation across the country, including in Ohio, about what measures are necessary to prevent future incidents like this from happening.
This is not the first time a poorly hit foul ball injured a child at a Major League Baseball game. A similar incident two years ago in Yankee Stadium prompted the MLB to require the 30 big league parks across the country to install protective netting between the far end of each dugout. Though each stadium complied, it was not enough to protect the four-year-old girl in Houston. Her family sat in an area unprotected by netting beyond the visitor’s dugout. Though the young child did not lose consciousness as a result of the hit she sustained, her injuries required hospitalization. Information about her current condition is not available.
The conversation now centers on whether the MLB and individual teams should take additional measures to safeguard spectators’ safety and to what extent it is reasonable to expect spectators to take responsibility for their own welfare. The daughter of a fan who died from a brain hemorrhage after a hit from a foul ball has redoubled her efforts to advocate for more safety measures, such as increased netting, following the most recent incident involving the young girl. Some players have expressed support for increased netting or even a fence around the field to protect spectators. Other believe that the measures currently in place are sufficient and fans should take more responsibility for their own safety by paying closer attention, especially if they have children.
In the eyes of the law, the understanding is that spectators are aware of the risks involved in attending a game and, by purchasing a ticket, accept those risks. Under the so-called “baseball rule,” neither the stadium nor the MLB is liable for fans’ injuries. Nevertheless, people injured at a recreational facility may find it helpful to contact a lawyer to discuss whether or not they may be eligible for compensation under the applicable laws.