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Tailgating Troubles: The Risk of Personal Injuries During Football Season

Town Law Publishing Sept. 7, 2023

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Fall in Pennsylvania isn't just about the beautiful foliage or pumpkin-spiced everything; it's also football season! Tailgating is a time-honored tradition that adds a layer of excitement and camaraderie to the game. However, amid the cheers, barbecues, and the overall sense of unity, there's another side to this beloved tradition: the risk of personal injuries. In this article, we'll delve into the types of injuries that can occur during tailgating and what you can do to both prevent them and protect your rights if you're injured.

The Atmosphere: A Mix of Excitement and Hazards

Tailgating is about more than just football; it's a social event with cooking, games, and sometimes alcohol. While these elements contribute to the festive atmosphere, they also create a host of potential hazards. From hot grills to intoxicated individuals, the risk of injury looms large.

Types of Injuries

Burn Injuries

Barbecuing is a staple of the tailgating experience. However, mishandling grills can lead to severe burns. This can range from minor first-degree burns to more serious cases that require hospitalization.

Slips and Falls

Spilled drinks, dropped food, and various tailgating equipment can create hazards that result in slip and fall accidents. These incidents can lead to anything from minor scrapes to more severe injuries like broken bones or concussions.

Alcohol-Related Injuries

Overindulgence in alcohol is a common issue at tailgating events. Drunken behavior not only increases the risk of accidents within the tailgating area but also poses dangers like DUI accidents once people leave the venue.

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Legal Aspects: Who is Responsible?

Premises Liability

The location where the tailgating occurs, usually a stadium parking lot, has an obligation to maintain a reasonably safe environment. If you are injured and can prove that the injury was due to negligence on the part of the property owner, you may be eligible for compensation.

Personal Liability

In some cases, the person who caused the injury may be held personally liable. If, for example, someone intoxicated crashes into you in the parking lot, they could be responsible for your injuries.

Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania operates under a system of "modified comparative negligence." This means that if you are partially at fault for your own injury, your compensation may be reduced accordingly.

Protecting Your Rights: Steps to Take After an Injury

  1. Seek Immediate Medical Help: Regardless of the severity, it's crucial to get medical attention as soon as possible.

  2. Document the Scene: Take photographs of where the injury occurred and any contributing factors.

  3. Collect Witness Information: If anyone saw what happened, get their contact details.

  4. Consult an Attorney: Given the complexities involved in determining liability, consulting an attorney can be a significant step in protecting your rights.

Preventive Measures: A Stitch in Time

  1. Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings to avoid potential hazards.

  2. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Responsible drinking can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

  3. First-Aid Kit: Always have a first-aid kit handy for minor injuries.

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Balancing Fun and Safety

Tailgating during football season is a cherished tradition, but it comes with its own set of risks. By understanding the types of injuries that can occur, who might be responsible, and what steps to take afterward, you can enjoy the festivities without compromising on safety. After all, a successful football season is one where the only losses happen on the field, not in the parking lot.

So the next time you're preparing for a fun tailgating event, remember that safety should be as much a part of your game plan as the snacks and cheers. Keep the risks in mind and play it smart—both on and off the field.