Injured People

Violence in Sport

TGB Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer Tim White writes about the legal ramifications arising from violent sporting incidents in South Australia.

TGB Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer Tim White writes about the legal ramifications arising from violent sporting incidents in South Australia.


Unfortunately we often hear of or see people injured during sporting events in incidents that are well outside the boundaries of the rules of the game.

This can involve a ‘king hit’ behind the play, excessive use of force during a tackle, violence after a game is completed, inappropriate use of sporting equipment and many other scenarios. More often than not the injuries that are inflicted by such actions are extremely serious and at times have even been life threatening. Victims can be left with permanent damage and have to deal with those restrictions and symptoms for the remainder of their life.

These sort of actions should be dealt with quickly and with severe penalties. There needs to be a deterence of this sort of behaviour and one way this may occur is by punishing the offenders with significant penalties.

All sporting contests have rules that are to be followed by those competing. These rules are critical to determining if the incident involved is outside or beyond what is reasonable or within the contemplation of the rules of the game.

There are two main avenues for dealing with these events legally. One is through the criminal justice system. This involves reporting the matter to the police and it then being investigated by that authority. The evidence of witnesses is critical to this process. Unfortunately this approach can sometimes take a long time. It also requires that the offence is proven beyond reasonable doubt, which is a very high onus of proof.

The other avenue is civil compensation. This usually involves obtaining the assistance of a lawyer who will investigate what occurred, document information about the injuries suffered and obtain information about time lost from work and other expenses incurred. Often these sort of claims can result in considerable amounts of compensation being paid. Here the onus of proof is at a lower level than the criminal proceedings (ie balance of probabilites), which is a considerable factor for a victim to consider when deciding which avenue to proceed with. This type of claim is also not limited to establishing that you have been assaulted, it includes other aspects including negligence, breach of contract (ie breach of the rules) and recklessness.

There have been various high profile sporting incidents that have led to criminal and/or civil claims being made over the years. Some of these incidents have involved AFL, rugby league, rugby union, baseball and soccer players. With professional sporting people, often the amount of compensation payable is considerable.

Importantly, if you have been the victim of an excessively violent incident on the sporting field you should report the incident to the police and seek legal advice about the potential for a civil claim against the person who inflicted the injuries.

For free initial advice about your situation contact your nearest TGB office.