By now, I would imagine most of you have seen a video of the Myles Garrett incident from the Thursday Night Football Game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a recap: In the waning seconds of the 4th quarter, Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns tackled Pittsburgh’s quarterback, Mason Rudolf. While on the ground, both players appeared to be reaching for the other’s helmet in an attempt to remove it. Only Garrett succeeded. What happened next was shocking. After Garrett removed Rudolf’s helmet, he swung the helmet at the quarterback and struck Rudolf square in the head. Other Steelers’ players rushed towards Garrett and began punching and kicking him as well. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured as a result of this horrible incident.
There is no question that football is a dangerous sport. However, some incidents go beyond the scope of competition. As football fans, we, at Torgenson Law, were simply stunned, as we watched the Myles Garrett incident. It was one of those disturbing and infamous sports moments, similar to the NBA’s 2004 “Malice at the Palace” incident that you never want or expect to see. In addition, as Arizona Injury Lawyers, we recognize the various legal implications of these violent circumstances.
The vast majority of sports injuries do not warrant or justify a cause of action against a third party, as there are some injuries that are inherent in the sport you are playing. By simply participating at all, you are implicitly “assuming the risk” that you may suffer injuries due to the nature of the activity. For example, a baseball player knows that he or she could break her finger while sliding into a base, and a basketball player is aware that he or she could land awkwardly after jumping to get a rebound and injure their knee or ankle. Because athletes assume these risks, there is generally no avenue for personal injury compensation.
Of course, some risks are not assumed. Reckless behavior by other players, maintenance issues or other field-of-play hazards, and negligent officiating or supervision can create risks personal injuries that might produce viable injury claims.
The Myles Garrett incident falls under a separate category altogether: Intentional Conduct. Rudolf in no way assumed the risk that an opposing player would attack him with his own helmet. Garrett’s action grossly exceeded the scope of the rules and nature of the NFL. If Rudolf suffered injuries as a result of Garrett’s actions, he would likely have valid intentional tort claims of assault and battery. Garrett would be limited to arguments of self-defense, defense of others, or consent/privilege to limited his liability. Given the video evidence, it is doubtful that these defenses would be successful.
At this time, there have been no legal ramifications for Myles Garrett other than the NFL’s disciplinary decision to suspend him indefinitely. Still, there is no question that Garrett’s conduct could potentially warrant legal action against him. Thankfully, no one was significantly injured in this incident. Nonetheless, at Torgenson Law, we know that reckless or intentional misconduct can and does lead to injuries in sports. If you suffer personal injuries due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another, do not hesitate to call Torgenson Law at (602) 726-0747.
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