Posts Tagged ‘spectator injury’

Accident Insurance and Baseball

Spectator injuries not covered by Little League policy

New Jersey’s Elizabeth Lloyd, is suing for more than $150,000 in damages after being hit in the face by a baseball. Although Matthew Migliaccio was only 11 years old at the time of the incident, the lawsuit filed in April claims that Migliaccio’s overthrow from the bullpen was deliberate and reckless.

Lloyd is filing suit to cover for medical costs and pain and suffering, while her husband is suing for the loss of “services, society and consortium.”

The count alleging Migliaccio’s negligence is covered by the family’s Homeowner’s policy, but the other counts are not. Little League has denied any coverage, due to their accident policy only covering staff or players; spectators are not included.

In my opinion:

Little League is correct that spectator injuries are not covered by an Accident policy. However, “Accident like” benefits for spectator injuries up to a limit of $5,000 can be covered if the General Liability policy includes premises medical payments. Otherwise, if damages are greater than $5,000, the only recourse for an injured spectator is to sue. Such lawsuits would be covered under a General Liability policy under the Each Occurrence section. This case is similar to one that one of our league clients had about ten years ago when a spectator was hit in the jaw by an overthrow ball during pre game warm-ups. It was alleged that the league and coaches were negligent in allowing the players to form two lines for warm-ups where one line was too close to an unfenced spectator area. The carrier settled the case for around $300,000 but the damages were extensive.

-John Sadler

Source: Insurance Journal, June 26, 2012

League Insurance Carrier Tries to Deny Injury Claim

Certificate of insurance was key in court ruling

A General Liability policy was taken out under the name of Northeast Youth Football League and its member teams. A certificate of insurance evidencing “additional insured” status was issued on behalf of a member team to the field owner as required by agreement. Another member team wanted to use the fields and the same certificate of insurance was submitted. A spectator was injured in a fall from a bleacher during a game played by the second team. Great American E&S Insurance Company denied the claim and sought a declaratory action for its responsibility to pay for the injury.

Certificate of INsurance

Sample Certificate of Insurance

Great American unsuccessfully argued that the certificate of insurance did not apply to the second team since its name was not listed on the certificate of insurance. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, New York disagreed by reasoning that neither the certificate of insurance nor the policy included the names of any of the teams, but instead listed only the league and its member teams.

Great American also argued that two separate policy exclusions would be applicable. The first was a Design Defect and Structural Maintenance Exclusion and the second was an exclusion stating that Additional Insureds were not covered for their sole negligence. However, the court reasoned that the latter exclusion could apply but said that the insurance carrier waived its right to use it as a defense since no written disclaimer was sent specifically mentioning their intent to use such exclusion.

In my opinion

Had the carrier given proper notice, it is likely that they could have properly denied the claim for the additional insured field owner, who was likely solely negligent in the slip and fall accident. The only way for the team to have shared in this negligence would have been due to lack of supervision or if the liability had been contractually assumed in a lease or license agreement.

Source: Rough Notes, February 2010

Collapse of Temporary Structure Exclusion

General Liability insurance policies for sports and recreation organizations sometimes contain a potentially dangerous “Collapse of Temporary Structure Exclusion.”

The purpose of this exclusion is presumably to protect the General Liability carrier against paying a claim in the event of collapse of bleachers, tents, signs, billboards, fences or other temporary structures.

Unfortunately, the exclusion does not define “temporary.” Does temporary refer to a one-time event? A season? A year? Are any bleachers that can be moved considered temporary?

A bleacher collapse can be a serious event in terms of both the number of spectators that can be injured and the potential severity of injuries. Because of the seriousness of these bleacher collapse incidents, sports organizations can’t afford to have this ambiguous exclusion on their General Liability policy.