Hockey is one of Canada’s national pastimes, especially during the winter months. Whether you are a member of a league, or playing a pick-up game on an outdoor rink, hockey is a great way to remain physically and socially active. However, every recreational sport comes with some risks, and hockey is no exception. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, injuries can unfortunately happen on the ice – even the most skilled players can still find themselves hurt. An important and frequently asked question is whether you can receive compensation from your injuries sustained while playing hockey.
If you find yourself injured by playing in a hockey game, the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision of Casterton v. MacIsaac (2020 ONSC 190) illustrates how you may be entitled to compensation. A damages award for a hockey injury is entirely dependent on the circumstances surrounding the injury and whether the conduct of the injuring party is deemed reasonable.
While playing in a recreational hockey league, Casterton collided with MacIsaac, fell on the ice, hit his head, and was severely injured. Casterton then brought an action against MacIsaac, seeking compensation for the lifelong effects of his injuries. While Casterton indicated that he was blindsided by MacIsaac, MacIsaac argued that the collision occurred because Casterton made an unexpected turn on the ice and occurred through no fault of MacIsaac’s. Before analyzing the facts of the collision itself, Justice Gomery summarized the applicable test to determine liability when a recreational hockey player suffers an injury during a game.
Canadian case law indicates that when an individual is participating in a recreational sport where some risk of injury is accepted, a player can recover against another player who injures them if injuring conduct fell outside of what a reasonable participant would anticipate. In the specific context of a recreational hockey game, the key question before Justice Gomery was whether MacIsaac’s conduct fell outside what a reasonable recreational hockey player would anticipate.
After hearing the evidence collected from witnesses to the collision, in addition to the involved parties, Justice Gomery determined that Casterton was entitled to compensation. Through reviewing the totality of the evidence, Justice Gomery found that MacIsaac intentionally collided with Casterton at a high speed, that the collision constituted a blindside hit and that the severity of the collision was exceptional given the circumstances.
The lesson for recreational hockey players from this case has two parts. First, if you are injured while playing a recreational hockey game, you may be entitled to compensation dependent on the conduct resulting in the injury. Second, if you injure a fellow player while playing a recreational hockey game, you may be liable for the harm caused. Furthermore, it is dependent on your conduct that led to the injury.
If you have been injured while playing recreational sports, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today at 705-722-6393.