Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Two accidents once again raise questions about stadium safety

Yesterday afternoon, most people here in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania were gathered around their television sets watching the Steelers disappointing loss to the Titans at Heinz Field. Unfortunately, most of the media discussion concerning this game and the slate of other home openers across the league likely served to overshadow two tragic stadium accidents, one of which proved fatal to a fan.

One of the incidents occurred at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, where two people suffered personal injuries when the railing above the walkway leading to the visitors' locker room collapsed. Witnesses to the incident indicate that the two fans were the only people leaning on the railing when it suddenly snapped and that they actually fell down onto the walkway as the players were exiting the field.

The other incident occurred at Candlestick Park, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, where a fan died after falling from a pedestrian walkway.

While reports are still developing, it is believed that the fan fell from the Jamestown walkway -- which runs the length of the entire stadium -- onto the sidewalk below shortly after kickoff. While on-scene emergency responders tried to revive the man, who witnesses say appeared to be intoxicated, their efforts were unavailing and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two incidents come just weeks after a similar occurrence at Turner Field in Atlanta, where a man attending a baseball game somehow managed to tumble over a railing and fall 85 feet to his death. While authorities have yet to determine what happened, the man's parents believe that poor stadium design was likely to blame for their son's death.

While people may be quick to dismiss the theory that poor stadium design/construction somehow played a role in these accidents, consider that the Institute for the Study of Sports Incidents has determined that there have been over two dozen documented cases of fans falling at U.S. sports stadiums since 2003.

In general, those property owners who either create dangerous conditions or allow them to occur, and who either knew or should have known about these hazardous conditions can be held liable in a court of law.

Source: ABC News, "Fan falls, dies at 49ers-Packers game in SF," September 9, 2013; WISH TV, "Fans injured in fall after Colts game," September 9, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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