Torts in Wrestling
Injuries may occur to both spectators and wrestlers at a wrestling match. An injured party may recover damages in a negligence action against the premises owner.
An owner of a wrestling ring or other premises in which wrestling matches occur owes a duty to use ordinary care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to provide a safe viewing area. This duty includes inspecting and maintaining in good repair the seats or bleachers in which spectators view the matches. The owner may be found negligent if seats collapse or fall over when spectators stand on them or if seats are placed too close to the ring and in harm’s way if a wrestler is thrown from the ring.
There is a potential that a promoter of a match may be liable for a spectator’s injuries caused by one wrestler throwing another out of the ring or by a wrestler assaulting the spectator.
An owner must maintain the wrestling ring in a reasonably safe condition for the wrestlers. This duty may include inspecting the floor and the ropes around the ring to ensure that they maintain a certain amount of flexibility. For non-professional wrestlers, such as students, certain parties, including school districts and teachers may be held liable for negligent supervision of wrestlers who become injured.
A spectator at a wrestling match assumes the ordinary risks of viewing a match. However, he usually will not be held to have assumed the risk that a wrestler will throw another out of the ring into the audience unless he is aware from his experience that such an occurrence is likely. A spectator who is injured by wrestlers may not be permitted to recover if he is contributorily negligent by approaching the ring during the match or sitting in an exposed seat next to the ring in which he was not permitted to sit.
A wrestler assumes the risk that he may be injured by another wrestler, but he does not assume the risk that he will be injured by small, foreign objects left on the ring floor or by side ropes that snap upon contact.