Court Discusses Liability in Recent Sports Injury Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an interesting issue that arises in many New Mexico personal injury cases. Specifically, the case required the court determine what standard the defendant’s conduct should be held to in determining whether he was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

In New Mexico personal injury cases, in order for a plaintiff to be successful, they must establish that the defendant violated a standard of care that was owed to them by the defendant. In most New Mexico personal injury cases, the negligence standard is applied. However, in some limited situations, other standards can apply. The case mentioned above involves the application of the “reckless misconduct” standard. Importantly, New Mexico law differs from that applied in the following case, however, the case does offer a good illustration of how courts approach this analysis.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was golfing with the defendant when, on the eighth hole, the defendant struck the defendant with the golf cart the two had been using to get around the course. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant.

State law at the time provided that co-participants in a sporting event owed each other a duty to refrain from reckless misconduct. However, the reckless misconduct standard only applied to injuries that were brought about by risks that were “inherent” to the sport in question. Injuries caused by all other risks were covered by the general “negligence” standard. Thus, in this case, the defendant was claiming that being hit by a golf cart was an inherent risk of golf.

The case was initially resolved in favor of the defendant, and was appealed up to the state’s high court.

The Appellate Opinion

The court began by holding that judges are not in a position to determine what risks are “inherent” in a particular sport. This, the court held, required individual judges engage in a historical and philosophical that is not fitting for legal analysis. Thus, the court determined this case, and future cases presenting similar issues, should focus on whether the risk that resulted in the plaintiff’s injury was “reasonably foreseeable.” The court explained that the “reasonably foreseeable” standard was more readily applied by courts and would not require judges get bogged down in making decisions that they were not any better qualified to make than other citizens.

Having just announced a new legal standard, the court remanded the case for the lower court to apply the new standard.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico sports accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases, including those arising from sports injuries. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Applies Coming and Going Rule in Recent Car Accident Case Seeking to Hold Employer Liable, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 18, 2018.

Car Dealership’s Insurance Policy Did Not Provide Coverage to Test-Driving Motorists, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 6, 2018.