Consent, Personal Injury – and Sports

Posted by Oliver on June 2,2017

Following on from a previous post on the civil law term of Volenti Not Fit Injuria, competitive sports illustrate that point of law quite well.

Competitive sports can be great fun, a chance to challenge yourself, learn and develop new skills, and be with like minded individuals. Sports ranging from rugby, to football, to rowing, to tennis, even to target rifle shooting, all are excellent examples of that.

However, those and other sports can also be dangerous and potentially cause serious injury to those taking part. There are many cases in rugby, football and other sports of participants suffering from serious injuries, sometimes potentially lie changing. Time off work might be needed to recover, or specialist treatments, or occupational health therapy or physiotherapy – all from an amateur league match

However, you can make a legal claim against the organisers, or those legally responsible. All the elements and legal tests needed to make a claim (such as not the claimant’s fault, duty of care, breach, etc) are usually present. The organisers or those who were responsible will quite often cite Volenti. Essentially, under Volenti the injured party consented to take part in the match, and therefore consented that there was an element of risk and danger. The injured party understood there was a risk of injury – and still took part, essentially agreeing to that danger.

In some situations, the defence of Volenti Non Fit Injuria would apply. However, it is considered only a partial defence in tort law. What that means is that it needs to be supported  a by other legal principles and defences, orcby very strong and compelling evidence (a rarity in such personal injury litigation). Volenti Non Fit Injuria is also unwelcome in the civil courts, making it harder to prove according to judicial principle. It is also the case that it would be quite bizarre if a court ruled that essentially the injured party had indeed been injured – but by themselves, by indirectly agreeing to thier own injury!

Without Volenti, compelling arguments, or other civil law defences – a personal injury claim following a sport related accident will often succeed for the claimant. A successful claim can result in justice for the injured party following an accident on or off the pitch, and can see compensation awarded.

Competitive sports are meant to be tough, are meant to be a challenge – but playing sport is not about being injured or hurt. Sport should be enjoyed, and seen as the thrill and excitement that it is – not as a source of injury.

Contact our experienced team at Compensation today to discuss a personal injury claim that was received on or off the sports field, and see whether you might be able to make a legal claim – or whether Volenti might apply!