There’s no doubt Australians love their sport. More than 11 million of us play some kind of sport activity every year.1
While sport benefits our health, wellbeing, communities and economy, we know it can come with a varying risk of injury.
Sadly, tens of thousands of Australians are injured each year and the road to recovery can be complex—and that includes seeking compensation.
In this article we look at what compensation you may be eligible for, and how to access it as comprehensively, quickly and simply to help you get your life back on track as soon as possible.
The impact of sporting injuries in Australia
While the odd sprain or niggle is often seen as a ‘rite of passage’ with many sports, what happens if you suffer a more serious injury?
During 2011–12, an estimated 36,000 people aged 15 and over were hospitalised as the result of an injury sustained while playing sport.2
The repercussions can be huge emotionally and financially - on you and the family.
Medical bills can mount, and if you need to take time off work, you may be significantly out of pocket.
This is why seeking compensation is so important. If you or a loved one has been injured while playing sport, make sure you know your rights and entitlements to get the support needed to move towards a better future.
Playing sports or activities with higher risk
There are some sports more dangerous than others—with motor sports, water sports and football codes together accounting for nearly half (47%) of all sports injury hospitalisations.2
Even if you are seriously injured from a legal rugby tackle or being hit by a cricket ball, most of us understand it’s a risk we take with this kind of sport. So it can be more difficult to claim for compensation.
There are also ‘adventure’ sports like bungee jumping or abseiling that involve more obvious, extreme risks.
When taking part in these sports, there’s an expectation you accept accidents may occur. But that’s not to say you can’t still claim for compensation if you are eligible.
Who can claim for compensation
If you’ve been injured while playing sport or an activity, the best way to find out if you’re eligible to claim compensation and benefits is to seek expert legal advice.
You may be able to claim compensation if you are:
- a professional athlete
- an amateur athlete
- a university, college or school student,
- an employee injured in a sporting event organised by work
A public liability lawyer experienced in sporting injuries claims should be able to assess your individual situation and provide clear, direct advice about whether you have a case or not.
Who is responsible if I’m injured while playing sport?
Anyone with the official capacity to organise and manage sporting programs—such as sporting clubs and associations—usually has a duty to ensure the sport is as safe as possible for participants.
If this duty is breached and you get hurt, you may be entitled to compensation.
This could be as a result of:
- an unsafe playing pitch, surface or dangerous sporting grounds
- faulty or defective sporting equipment
- a referee or umpire failing to ensure the reasonable safety of the players
- mismanaged or inadequate supervision by a trainer or instructor
In most states, the rights of people injured at sporting events are protected under public liability law.
Most sporting clubs and facilities have some form of public liability insurance.
The schemes all work a little differently in each state and territory, so it’s important to find out about the one that applies to you.
In NSW, if you have been seriously and permanently injured but nobody was at fault, you might be able to lodge a claim for compensation under the NSW Sporting Injuries Insurance Scheme, icare.
icare provides benefits for people seriously injured playing sport, but doesn’t cover minor injuries like breaks, sprains, cuts and bruises, or dental injuries.
What if I’m injured in a work sporting activity?
If your employer asks you to participate in a sporting or athletic activity, you may be covered under WorkCover insurance.
This also includes training or preparation; travelling between home and the competition; or at the competition.
Sporting injury neglect or mismanagement
Some sporting accidents can lead to horrific injuries like broken necks, head injuries, cardiac arrests and even death on the rare occasion.
While it may be part of the accidental risks you take playing more dangerous sports, in some cases, it may be caused because your employer or provider neglected or mismanaged your injury.
If there is a clear case of negligence or mismanagement and you’ve suffered a significant or serious injury, you may be able to claim compensation for:
- medical treatment hospitalisation
- loss of wages and supperannuaction
- damages for pain and suffering - physical and psychological
- costs associated with domestic assistance
- costs associated with home modifications
How we help people who've suffered sporting injury or neglect
At Slater and Gordon, we’re committed to helping people who have suffered injuries through no fault of their own access the benefits and support they are legally entitled to.
Currently, our team in Newcastle is acting for a former professional NRL player who suffered a series of concussions during his career with the Newcastle Knights.
Sadly, he now lives with lifelong injury.
To help make sure he and his family get the support he needs to maintain quality of life, we’re helping this former NRL player sue the Knights for damages.
We are contending in the proceedings that the Knights knew about the disastrous harm the player was being put under with continued exposure to traumatic injuries, but they failed to do anything to manage or prevent repeated exposure.
What to do if you’ve been injured while playing sport
No matter the severity of your injury, there are simple steps to take if you find yourself injured while playing sport:
Seek medical treatment
If you are not taken straight to hospital from the scene, go to a doctor and get the right treatment and medical care for your injuries.
Record the details of your accident
Write down the time, date, address/location, why you were there, how the accident happened, who saw the incident etc. If possible, take photos of the area, any hazards, and your injury.
Report the incident
Report your injury to the premises/management where the incident occurred.
Keep your records
Hold on to any receipts/invoices for any expenses you have from the injury, and any letters or documents from the premises/management or any insurance providers.
Seek expert legal advice
If your injury is minor, you may be able to claim reimbursement directly from the organisation responsible for the grounds or the sporting event, but if you have suffered more significant loss, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer specialised in this type of law.
Why expert advice is crucial
It’s important to remember no one should have to suffer alone.
It can be overwhelming and stressful to navigate the complex claims system and know what claim you should apply for based on your injury, particularly when dealing with the aftermath of an injury.
It’s critical you get independent legal advice with lawyers experienced in sporting injury claims and/or public liability lawyers as soon as possible to help you understand the full scope of your possible entitlements so you can focus on your recovery.
How we can help you
Slater and Gordon are highly experienced in public liability law and have expert teams in each state we operate.
Our teams understand the impact a sporting injury on your quality of life and we’re committed to providing a clear, honest assessment of whether you are eligible to make a claim for compensation.
We also offer free counselling support if needed to our clients.
If you or a loved one have been injured playing sport, contact us online or by calling 1800 555 777. We’re here to help.