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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Jan. 15, 2016

There were so many incidents in which fans were hit by baseballs and shattered bats last season that, in early December, the Major League Baseball (MLB) association announced that they would be issuing a recommendation for stadiums to install protective netting in front of the more exposed spectator seats (usually near first-and third-base lines). Most-all baseball clubs are expected to have the netting up before opening day.

The recommendation comes after a series of serious, gruesome injuries; a woman at Fenway Park who was struck by a broken bat and spent a week in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. One month later, the same thing happened in the same seating area.


Some ticket holders have already filed class-action lawsuits against MLB, citing the many factors that are making games dangerous to spectators today (one of them being the fact that bats splinter more easily). One lawsuit sites close to 2,000 people per year being injured at MLB games. Other sports leagues like NASCAR and the National Hockey League have acted more quickly and started installing more netting over 10 years ago.

The lawsuit also cites the particular danger that current conditions pose to children and the fact that all of these injuries—blindness, skull fractures, concussions, brain hemorrhages, etc.—are preventable injuries. By encouraging more and more people—especially children—to attend ballgames, maintaining that stadiums are safe for families, and by providing more and more distractions, the lawsuit alleges that the MLB has increased overall risks to fans.

Limited Netting

While part of the campaign to better protect the public will also involve launching a public awareness campaign regarding the dangers of not sitting behind the netting, at the same time, the league has suggested that some seating could remain vulnerable, as the goal has been to enhance safety while still providing that “up-close experience to the games and the players.” The MLB has only called for the netting to extend from the existing screen behind home plate to the closest edge of the dugout, but it might better protect spectators to extend the netting further down.

In addition, many fans are looking at their cell phones during the game and may not realize that a baseball or bat fragment is headed in their direction. Would a spectator really have enough time between when the ball is hit and being hit to process what is happening? And is there more that the league could do, in addition to netting, such as implementing additional bat regulations?

Contact a Clearwater Attorney if You Have Been Injured

Like all other property owners, the MLB and baseball clubs have a duty to ensure that stadiums are safe for spectators, and like other property owners, they can be held liable for injuries. Skilled Clearwater personal injury attorney Mike Walker is dedicated to making sure that any victims are compensated for their injuries and pain and suffering, including those injured during sports games. Contact his office today for a free consultation and let him get started helping you.