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Take me out to the ballgame (but bring the netting)

If it's October, you know that Major League Baseball (M.L.B.) fans are preparing to attend the World Series games. Football fans may have their Super Bowl, but the final weeks of October are hallowed time for devoted fans of America's pastime.

Regardless of which teams wind up in the World Series games this year, seeing them live in the stadium is a real treat, especially if you have premium seats. But just how safe are those seats?

Baseball fans suffer severe injuries

In the past, M.L.B. fans -- including some young children -- have suffered life-threatening injuries from being struck in the head, face and chest areas by fast-pitched balls and other projectiles.

The problem is real. In 2014, Bloomberg News conducted a survey of fan injuries at M.L.B. games. They determined that approximately 1,750 people get injured annually at these games.

As a response to the industry-wide problem and ensuing personal injury and class action lawsuits, team owners and stadium officials vowed to reduce injuries and liability by installing protective netting.

The M.L.B. recommended that netting be extended from home plate to dugout's edge.

As it turns out, there have been mixed results regarding compliance with the recommendation, which also prompts fans to be notified at the time of purchase whether their seats will be behind the netted areas.

Role of smartphones in danger

While there has always been a real risk of injury to fans from a splintered bat or speeding fastball, the distraction caused by fans engaging with their cellphones in the ballpark has substantially increased the risk. Baseball can have its slower moments, but staying off your cellphone and watching the on-field action could potentially save fans' lives.

What recourse do injured fans have?

There is somewhat of an assumed risk to sit in the ballpark of an M.L.B. game. After all, men with very strong arms are pitching 90 mph fastballs and knocking them right out of the park. But that doesn't entirely absolve any potential defendants of negligence in these type of cases.

Your injuries may not even be from a team's ball or bat. Drunken and unruly fans pose hazards to those around them in the stands and elsewhere during games. That's one reason why stadiums hire security teams to remove those who pose a danger to themselves or others in the stands.

If you wind up injured at a professional sporting event, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your injuries, losses and other damages.

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Hottenroth, Garverick, Tilson & Garverick, Co., L.P.A.
126 S. Market St.
Galion, OH 44833

Phone: 419-468-5044
Fax: 419-468-1308
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