Pickleball Injury. Injured on Pickleball Court. Injured Playing Pickleball
The New York Times just ran a thorough article about Pickleball and injuries that arise from playing the sport. See the full article at the following link.
Published Aug. 20, 2022 Updated Aug. 22, 2022
Most injuries occurring while playing pickleball will be those where no one is at fault. It is just situational, like strains and sprains, or getting one’s feet tangled and falling. But what about where there is an at-fault party? What about those injuries that arise when the pickleball court was not in good repair and causes a person to catch their foot during play and fall? What about falldowns caused by wet courts during tournament play? Is there liability in any of these scenarios?
First, the pickleball community is a rather cohesive body of people that generally try to get along. However, that is of little consolation to a player who trips on a worn court because the surface material is flipping up and catches the person’s foot. Such an event can lead to broken bones or a torn knee requiring surgery and accruing thousands of dollars in medical bills to the injured player. This could be in addition to loss of income for the injured player and a life-long injury where recovery could be less than 100%.
Under Florida law the injured player would have to demonstrate that the facility caused—in part or in whole—the injury to occur. The scenario listed above—about a bad playing surface—is the most likely culprit for pickleball trip-and-falldown injury. At www.FightingForFamilies.com we have viewed many outdoor courts where the surfacing was coming up and causing a tripping hazard. It seems that government agencies who own the facilities are slow to remedy such defects, despite the tripping hazard this causes. Another cause of falldowns occurs in indoor facilities where the flooring becomes wet due to roof leaks or when rain water is tracked into and on the Courts. In city-owned gyms where pickleball nets are placed across wooden basketball courts moisture on the floor where pickleball will be played is especially dangerous to the players on those wood-floor courts. Also, the city-owned gyms or “rec centers” are often staffed with teens and it is easy to observe that the floors upon which pickleball is played are rarely swept for dirt and dust. On the wooden basketball floors this makes pickleball play dangerous for the players who may not even know the unkept condition of the court.
Unfortunately, in these situations which cause injury, it is not until an injury occurs that the owner of the court (many times a government-owned entity) decides to do something about the dangerous condition. Pickleball injuries can also occur at private facilities or member clubs. Still in any of these locations, the entity who has control over the courts will have to have done something wrong for an injured claimant to succeed.
Can I Recover for My Pickleball Injury That Wasn’t My Fault?
In Florida you have the right to bring a case for injury against a person or entity (i.e., against a city, county, or business) who is at fault for causing the injury. This includes the right to pursue a claim against a responsible party for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Those are the elements of damages recognized in Florida law. The party you contend was responsible for the injury must have done something to lead to your injury. It is not sufficient that just because a player was injured at a certain location that the facility is automatically at fault for the incident. The facility must have done something—or failed to do something (like fix a defect in the playing surface)—that caused the injury to occur.
Does the Pickleball Player Assume the Risk of Playing?
Insurance companies and defense attorneys like to throw this phrase around when an injured claimant makes a claim—as though “assumed the risk” is a complete bar to a person making a claim to recover for their injuries. Here is how Florida law views the argument that the player “assumed the risk”. First, the player would have to had knowledge of the defect: the court is wet, or the court surface is damaged, or has some other dangerous condition. Florida operates on a “comparative fault” basis. What this means is that an injured claimant is responsible only for their percentage of fault—if any. So for instance if a claimant is said to be 10% at fault for the incident occurring, then the judge reduces any award to the claimant by 10% at the end of a trial. The jury is the ultimate decider of percentages of fault amongst claimants and at-fault parties. The jury is involved only if the claim goes to trial.
Yes Pickleball Injuries Do Occur
In the Journal of Emergency Medicine, (see the mentioned NY Times article) in a study published in 2019 it was estimated there were 19,000 pickleball injuries for 2017. 90 percent of those pickleball injuries were to people in their 50’s or older. According to the journal of Injury Epidemiology the number of injuries increased between 2010 and 2019 as pickleball’s popularity increased. According to that journal 85% of the injuries were to people over the age of 60. Fractures were one of the most common injuries. What is further interesting is that the largest percentage of emergency-room injuries in the journal’s 2021 study were from fall-downs.
Pickleball is both a great social activity and great form of exercise. Certainly, the social interaction with players and spectators is a valuable part of the game. When a player suffers a serious injury due to the condition of the pickleball court or some other unsafe condition, the fun of the game and interaction become secondary. If that injury is as a result of the owner of the court, then Florida law says the player has the right to seek to recover for their medical bills, lost wages, and injury. We are not only pickleball players, we are a law firm fighting for claimants. We have been “fighting for families” for 25 years, and that is why it is in our name.
We are www.FightingForFamilies.com.
The law firm that fights for you and your family.