Sport Related Accidents: When Can You Claim?

For many Australians, sport is a large part of every day life – whether it’s playing it, watching the game on TV or heading along to support your team at the game. Regular exercise not only promotes good health but it also provides opportunities for social interaction. However, along with these positives sometimes comes the negatives, such as nasty, unwanted injuries.

So, are you entitled to any compensation as a result of sustaining such an injury, as the resulting of a sporting accident? In this article we answer this very question, as well as examine when you may be able to claim as a spectator at an event.

We are all too familiar with sporting accidents, and the injuries sustained by high profile sports players. Just the other week Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti lost 4 teeth and required 40 stiches after receiving a boot to the face. His skipper Nigel Boogaard has called for greater protection for goalkeepers as they routinely put their bodies on the line. This injury follows a participant of the Iconic Bridge to Bridge water skiing race in Grafton being critically injured after his head has heavily impacted with the water.

Under the Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) liability will not be found for injuries arising from an activity where it is common knowledge that there is a risk of injury, even if the chances of this risk of injury occurring is low, i.e. an “obvious risk”. For example a football player is presumed to have been aware that there is an obvious risk that they may become injured in a legal tackle. In this situation it would be difficult to succeed in a claim for compensation against the persons making the tackle or the sporting club hosting the event.

Likewise the Court will not apportion liability for an injury sustained while participating in ‘dangerous recreational activities’ i.e. a recreational activity that involves a significant risk of physical harm. This could include race car driving or sky diving, as once again the risk of injury is obvious.

There are however certain circumstances in which you may be able to make a successful claim for a sporting injury, such as if your injury was the result of the negligence of another. This could include an injury as a result of:

  • An unsafe playing pitch/surface/dangerous sports ground;
  • Unsafe sporting equipment;
  • The referee/umpire of the game failed to ensure the reasonable safety of the players;
  • Deliberate or careless conduct

Similarly an occupier of a venue has a duty of care to its spectators to make sure that they are safe while on their premises.

Many Australians head to sporting venues each weekend to cheer on their favourite team. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the top 5 sports that Australians attend are:

  1. AFL
  2. Horse racing
  3. Rugby league
  4. Motor sports
  5. Soccer

More men than women attend sporting events, with the Northern Territory recording the highest sports attendance rates.

The occupiers of these venues must take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable risks of harm from occurring on their premises. This extends to (among other things);

  • Crowd control
  • Ensuing the walkways are not slippery
  • Ensuring there is adequate lighting in high walk areas
  • Ensuring the walkways are free from debris

Sports organisers/supervisors also have a duty of care to their participants and spectators to ensure their event is safe from foreseeable risk of injury.

So, what does this mean for you, as a spectator or player?


Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to claim compensation for injuries sustained while playing sport, or while at a sporting venue, supporting your team. This will depend on how your injury occurred, if it could have been prevented, as well as a number of other factors.

The best approach is to ensure your own safety as best you can. Wear the recommended safety gear and adhere to any venue rules; if you are injured through your own fault, it is highly unlikely you will be able to claim against a venue, your team, coach or other players.

In the instance that something has happened to you, playing or watching, it is best to chat to one of our expert lawyers. You can give us a call on 07 3009 7000, or complete any form on our site and we will call you!

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