They appear effortless on stage, but dancers face more serious injury risk than almost any other type of performer. Some common injuries include hip impingement, knee injuries, and spinal fractures. Over time, dancers are also at risk for arthritic joints. These injuries may not be life-threatening, but they are certainly life-altering. That’s especially true of children, because their musculoskeletal systems are still developing.
Fall injuries are quite common as well. Enthusiastic dancers often rapidly and unusually on an unfamiliar stage, so they may be unable to balance. Other hazards, such as wet spots on floors, cause other fall injuries.
All these injuries also trigger substantial medical bills. There are substantial noneconomic damages as well, such as loss of enjoyment in life or pain and suffering. Finally, many of these injuries are permanent, at least to a considerable extent. So, a few moments of carelessness could cause someone else to suffer for an extended period of time.
Liability for Dance Recital Injuries in Rockford
Almost all dance injuries begin as overuse injuries. It is very difficult for many dance instructors to spot the difference between soreness and injury. Exertion usually makes soreness better and makes injuries worse. So, the instructor may make the situation worse instead of better.
Negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. If a dancer complains of an injury, the group sponsoring the event has a legal duty to have a doctor or trainer examine the dancer. A simple “walk it off” invective is not good enough.
Fall injuries work a little differently. Traditionally, the law divided fall victims into invitees, licensees, and trespassers. These categories are confusing to say the least. So, Illinois lawmakers abolished the invitee-licensee distinction and instead imposed a duty of reasonable care in these cases. So, if the victim is lawfully at the recital or rehearsal, the duty of care applies.
Moreover, victim/plaintiffs must establish knowledge in premises liability cases. If the owner does not know about the dangerous condition, it is impossible for the owner to correct the situation. Victim/plaintiffs may establish knowledge through:
- Direct evidence of actual knowledge, or
- Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known).
In that latter instance, most Illinois courts use some variation of the time/notice rule. Imagine that the hazard is a banana peel on the floor. If the peel is yellow, it probably just fell, and constructive knowledge does not attach. But if it is black, it has been on the floor for a while, and the owner should have known about it and cleaned it up.
The Assumption of the Risk Defense
Insurance companies may have a number of defenses in Rockford dance recital injury matters. The assumption of the risk defense is perhaps the most prominent one. There are two basic elements:
- Voluntary Assumption: Many participants sign liability waivers. So, many parents assume they cannot file legal damage claims. But that’s not necessarily the case. Many “voluntary waivers” are actually take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion. There is no offer and acceptance, and probably no consideration either. Furthermore, many dancers must sign waivers to participate. Arguably, that condition renders them involuntary.
- Known Risk: All dancers know they could get hurt and limp around for a few days. But they do not anticipate the risk of serious injury. They also do not anticipate the risk of a fall injury.
In Illinois, the insurance company or other defendant must conclusively establish both prongs of the assumption of the risk defense.
Count on Assertive Attorneys
Dancers risk serious injury from several different sources. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. Home and hospital visits are available.