Event Sponsorship and Liability

Jul. 19th, 2011   /   , , ,

There is a distinction between sponsoring an event and incurring liability for that event. If you are visiting a sporting event or any other type of amusement, then you are entitled to be placed in a reasonably safe condition and environment. This condition should minimize or prevent anyone from suffering a foreseeable accident or injury.

Being a sponsor of an event, however, can be grounds for liability in the event of an accident. What has been consistently held in court is that a sponsor who either (1) controls (2) monitors or (3) supervises an aspect of the event may be liable for failing to properly control, monitor or supervise the event resulting in an accident. Essentially, as long as a sponsor is involved with setting up, controlling, or any other aspect of the event, they can be held liable if there is an accident.

In the case Thornhill v Deka-Di Riding Stables, YMCA sponsored a horseback riding event called “Women’s Wellness Weekend.” The court found that YMCA was in fact liable for an accident that occurred, because they had a “relationship with Deka-Di stables that gave it some measure of control over the rides.” Because YMCA was involved with the event and was not a mere sponsor, they were held liable for the accident that occurred at the event.

If the sponsor has a relationship with the event that gives it some measure of control over the event, they may be held liable for injuries that occurred at the event. Often times, injured parties overlook sponsors as potential defendants. Sponsors of events must exercise a degree of reasonable care in order to prevent injury at their events.

Another case relating to the notion of sponsor liability was in Chicago, where a jury awarded a woman over $400,000 in damages when she was injured at a golf tournament. The jury was convinced that the sponsors of the tournament exhibited enough dominion or control over some aspects of the tournament’s operation, and were therefore successfully sued for liability.

A legal concept called “assumption of risk,” is the traditional defense to recovering damages at a sponsored event. Defense attorneys will claim that if you went to a sporting event, or any other sponsored event, you assumed the risk that you could get hurt because you are engaging in an activity that puts you inherently at risk for injury. What people don’t realize is that sponsors of events still have the duty to provide an evironment that is reasonably safe for its patrons, and will be held accountable if they do not.

In many circumstances, it is difficult to determine who is liable for your injuries. Let us do the leg work to find out who is responsible so that you can be compensated for your injuries.

If you have any questions or comments, please call our office at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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