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Liability in Sports, Who’s at Fault?

As the Province is in the midst of “Jets Fever” one question that we are often faced with is, what happens when someone gets hurt playing organized sports and whose fault is it?

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba heard a case in 2016 in regards to a referee who was injured in the course of his role as a referee (Henderson v. Canadian, 2016 MBQB 51). In that decision an unidentified 13 year old hockey player while changing “on the fly” accidentally collided with the referee leading to injuries to the referee.

In the end the decision of the Court was that:

“the law in Manitoba and Ontario is clear that ordinary carelessness or negligence is not a basis for recovery in cases involving injuries caused by one player to another during a sporting event. Only where there is a deliberate intent to cause injury or reckless disregard for the consequences of one’s actions will a finding of negligence result.

All participants in a physical contact sport like hockey, including a referee, are presumed in law to assume willingly the risk of harm attendant on the regular and expected conduct of the game.  The player making injurious contact with another player can only be held liable for the results of that physical contact if there is a deliberate intent to injure or conduct so outside the normal scope of play”.

While injuries will forever happen in contact sports, all participants open themselves up to a certain level of risk.

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