Faulty Sports Equipment
Sports injuries can be devastating. They can end athletic careers, or in the most severe instances, result in permanent injury or even death. Athletes rely on the equipment they use to protect their bodies, or elevate their level of play. Hockey and football players need pads to protect their bones and organs and mitigate injuries, and playing without protection isn’t an option. Baseball equipment has been traditionally relegated to a batting helmet and batting gloves (which protect against blisters and vibrations after the bat makes contact). Now, it’s common for a batter to step into the batter’s box with a helmet, batting gloves and shin and elbow guards.
Just about every recreational, amateur or professional sport requires some form of protective equipment, which can also be worn to enhance performance (batting gloves or muscle compression apparel, for instance). When these products are defective, the athlete or participant could be open to serious risk or injury.
Defective sports equipment can come in many forms. A helmet with a loose screw or improperly manufactured shoulder pads are just two examples. It can be a defect in the design of a product, a defect in how the product was manufactured, or even in how the product was marketed. Sports equipment companies must label, instruct and warn the consumer of any shortcomings or how the equipment is best used.
As part of the registration process, recreational hockey leagues require participants to sign a waiver before playing, legally protecting themselves in the event of an accident. A waiver also makes the participant agree to certain clauses, one of which, is to wear a helmet at all times. Requiring participants to wear helmets doesn’t mean that the helmet will protect as advertised. A defective helmet can cause serious harm and leave the manufacturer, retailer or league organizer vulnerable to legal action.
Helmets are always worn by hockey, baseball and football players. Participants in high-risk sports like skiing, snowboarding and auto racing also wear some form of protective headgear. Even the smallest defect can open the wearer to the risk of serious injury.
Winter sports are prevalent in Canada. They commonly require an arsenal of equipment to offset the risk of injury. Compare hockey or skiing to swimming and running and it’s clear that winter sports require more protection.
No one stands at the top of a ski slope wondering if their equipment has manufacturing or design flaws. Equipment should be used with full confidence that it will provide optimal protection. At the time of purchase and during use, an athlete should be rewarded with equipment that provides the promised and necessary safety.
Lacrosse and soccer are two of Ontario’s more popular summers sports. During play, participants wear equipment (shin pads, helmets, gloves, etc.) to protect from slashes and headshots, among other dangers. Despite these sports having inherently less risk than many winter sports, a serious injury could be sustained if defective equipment is worn.
Regardless of the season, injuries happen and an investment in equipment needs to pay off in protection.
Who is Liable?
When sports injuries occur involving faulty equipment, the equipment manufacturers tend to blame the athlete’s ability, training or regard for safety. It takes effort and legal expertise to prove that a manufacturer is legally responsible for a sports injury due to defective equipment.
Generally, sports injuries are treated in law as any accident would be. If someone is seriously injured in a situation that was foreseeable or negligence was evident, then there could be a case for compensation. You and your legal representation will need to determine fault, and decide if defective equipment was a factor and if the victim’s negligence contributed to the injury.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Work with the Hamilton personal injury lawyers, Mackesy Smye to determine if defective equipment resulted in a sports injury, and if so, if you can seek damages. If you’ve been injured while playing a sport, our lawyers can help assess if the design, manufacturing or marketing of your equipment was defective in any way and if you have a case.
Personal injury cases involving defective sports equipment are complex — contact us today so that we can start working on your case.