Sporting activities are undeniably good for your health and general well-being. In a culture where diabetes, and other concerns about health and sedentary lifestyles are on the rise, energetic sports such as rugby are great for your physical fitness – as well as your mental and psychological health.
Historically, rugby was never a mainstream sport, but over the decades it has become one of the most popular sporting activities in the UK. Today, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland each have a strong national side – with Rugby Union particularly popular.
Rugby is a fast-paced, high-impact sport, with rugby tackles an important part of any rugby game. As a contact game, there is a higher risk of injury than in non-contact sports. Rugby is, in fact, one of the most dangerous sports because of the high impact collisions between players during a typical game. A comprehensive report published early 2017 revealed that 10 premiership rugby players retired as a result of injury.
Most rugby injuries are sustained during tackles, and concussion is by far the most common and highest risk rugby match injury. Other common injuries include broken bones, back and neck injuries, muscular strains and bruising, dislocations and overuse injuries. Because of the high injury risk, there are strict rules governing tackles in order to protect rugby players.
Even spectators at rugby matches can be hurt, for instance, through trips and falls in the grounds. The stadium or rugby ground owners could be held liable in negligence if they have breached their duty of care towards visitors on the premises, and you have suffered a personal injury as a result.
The average rugby player may make 40 or more tackles per match so it’s not hard to see how high the risk of injury may be. Effective pre-match training and physical conditioning can reduce the risk of injury. However, dangerous or reckless tackles can lead to legal claims. A dangerous tackle may also amount to criminal assault and lead to criminal charges being brought.
The conditions of the rugby pitch can also make a match more dangerous. If the ground is very wet and muddy but the match goes ahead, the risk of injury is greater. The lack of suitable protective equipment, can also increase the risk of injury and, therefore, personal injury claims.
Poor refereeing can lead directly to serious injury. In one case where a rugby scrum collapsed causing a player serious injury, the referee was found liable because players depend on the rules of the game for their safety, and it is for the referee to enforce those rules with reasonable care.
Rugby injuries can have a significant, and sometimes life-changing impact on the player’s life. Their ability to continue to play rugby or other sports, to earn a living and enjoy a normal family and social life can, in more serious cases, be severely impacted.
Unfortunately, simple accidents happen in every walk of life. If your injury was sustained by an accident that was nobody’s fault, for instance, through your own carelessness, you will not be able claim compensation.
However, if your injury was caused because someone else was negligent, or a player made a dangerous or illegal tackle or other move on the rugby pitch, you can start a claim for personal injury compensation. If the facilities on the ground were of poor quality, or the equipment you were supplied with were sub-standard, leading to your injury – then you have been badly let down and you are entitled to compensation.
If your coach has overworked you or underprepared you for a match, or if you were given insufficient warm-up time before the match, leading to an injury that could have been avoided, you can take action.
You should start your claim as soon as possible, because any legal proceedings must be under way within three years of the date of the incident, otherwise your claim may be ‘time-barred’. Most rugby injury claims are settled out of court, but you will need to have expert medical evidence before the claim can be settled.
Whatever the circumstances of your injury, you need to pull together as much information as possible as soon as you can. The information (evidence) you will need includes witness accounts of what happened; photographs of the pitch and any equipment, and of your injuries; sketches of what happened; accident book records; and anything else that can help support your claim.
To claim for any expenses that resulted from your injury, such as travel costs, prescription charges, and medical care, you will need to provide your lawyer with receipts, invoices, and so on, as evidence.
Hopefully, the person (or organisation) you are claiming compensation from will admit they were at fault, and you will be able to negotiate a satisfactory settlement without having to go to a court hearing. Otherwise, you will have to go court where the judge will decide on liability, and the amount of compensation that should be awarded.
Nobody wants to discourage those who seek to keep fit through sporting exercise, but the no win no fee personal injury system means that you can do so safe in the knowledge that you won’t be the one to ultimately pay for other people’s negligence.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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