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Who's Liable for Tailgating Accidents, Injuries?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Tailgating is a great American sporting tradition, but accidents at tailgates can leave various parties liable for resulting injuries -- and in some cases, even deaths.

Here are four of the most common people and entities shouldered with the blame in tailgating-related lawsuits:

1. Stadium Owners.

Since many tailgating injuries can be attributed to some feature of the tailgating area (typically the parking lot of a stadium), stadium and parking lot owners can be on the hook under a theory of premises liability.

Even if the injuries were caused by fans fighting with each other, the property owner may be liable for inadequate security.

2. Universities.

College athletic games are the backdrop for many tailgating injuries, and universities are often held legally responsible for the damage that follows. Drunken students provide a common liability risk for schools --especially if the school's lax enforcement of the underage drinking laws at tailgating functions can be proven.

Schools may also be held to a higher standard in protecting their students from injury while on campus -- even if they're protecting students from themselves.

3. Fraternities and Sororities.

Since "greek" organizations often host tailgates at universities, they can potentially be held responsible for tailgate injuries under social host liability laws. Even if state law doesn't place liability on hosts for serving alcohol to underage guests, intentionally giving booze to minors can make frats and sororities liable for what happens next -- fights, drunk driving crashes, etc.

Even if the fraternity or sorority organization itself cannot be sued for a tailgating injury, injured parties can sue every single member instead.

4. Individuals.

Just like with any other type of injury, the individuals who caused the tailgating injuries (or negligently failed to prevent them) can be deemed liable under a whole host of tort theories.

Whether it is negligence or recklessness in striking a tailgater with your car or assault and battery after you picked a drunken fight with someone, individuals can be held accountable for their tailgating transgressions.

Even if you've made a poor choice to allow another "sober" tailgater to drive your car, ending in an accident, you may be sued for negligent entrustment.

If you've been involved in a tailgating accident, consider consulting an experienced personal injury attorney to figure out your next steps.

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