Sports Premises Injuries and the Knight v. Jewett Evolution


The Sports Injury Claim and its Primary Defense.

Injuries that occur during sporting events present a host of special problems for the practitioner. Since the California Supreme Court decided Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 269, 11 Cal.Rptr.2d 2, the primary assumption of the risk doctrine has presented a potent, often unfair, barrier to injury claims in sports settings.

However, in the decade since Knight was decided, many courts have sought to soften the impact of the primary assumption of the risk doctrine. Some of the softening has to do with an often overlooked Knight doctrine – secondary assumption of the risk.

Yet, even primary assumption of the risk has mellowed with age, and the doctrine reached a landmark of sorts this past September when our Supreme Court decided Kahn v. East Side Union High School Dist. (2003)31 Cal.4th 990, 4 Cal.Rptr.3d 103.

The message is clear. Counsel should perform careful research into the facts of potential sports premises injury claims when advising clients on whether legal action is appropriate. The answers to the liability question may not always be apparent without some careful research, and sometimes the answer may be surprising.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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