Football is a dangerous sport, but it’s not often that we hear about a player who got a season-ending injury on the sideline — or that a player is suing after sustaining a mid-game injury. But, that’s what happened with the case of Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick.
What happened, and why does Patrick think the NFL and other parties need to be held accountable?
What Happened on the Sideline?
On October 17, 2022, Monday Night Football featured the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were the away team, playing the Chargers on their home field at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The game was close and went into overtime.
During a punt return, Aaron Patrick, a 25-year-old linebacker for the Broncos, attempted to make a tackle on punt returner DeAndre Carter. He ran quickly toward Carter and pushed him out of bounds. As the play ended, Patrick’s momentum carried him into the sideline area. He tried to avoid an NFL official, stepped on mats that covered cords and cables, and fell. Video captured the incident.
According to the New York Post, Patrick says his foot got tangled in the mats and cords. It caused Patrick to fall, bend his knee awkwardly, and tear his ACL.
The injury was season-ending and led to Patrick being placed on injury reserve — and filing a civil lawsuit.
Why Did Patrick File a Civil Lawsuit?
Patrick sustained a season-ending injury when he fell on the sideline. Based on his contract, he could lose thousands of dollars because of the injury.
“Patrick has what is called a ‘split contract,’ which means his $825,000 base salary is reduced to under $500,000 if he suffers an injury that prevents him from playing,” according to ESPN.
Patrick’s civil personal injury lawsuit alleges that the injury limited his earning power. According to his contract, he could lose roughly $325,000.
The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California and names the NFL, the Rams, the Chargers, SoFi Stadium, ESPN, and several others, including Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Rams and the stadium. It alleges that the defendants were negligent in creating a safe space for players.
Patrick’s agent, Lamont Smith told Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, “I was very disturbed about the way the injury occurred with the carpet being on the sideline like that. His cleat got lodged in the carpet trying to avoid the media person.”
“Player safety should be the foremost of importance to the NFL and its owners. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar sports enterprise and business, and it needs to do everything possible to protect its players from non-contact game injuries,” Patrick’s attorney, William M. Berman said in a statement.
The lawsuit requested unspecified damages, which includes future earning potential and lost bonuses, and requested a jury trial.
Does Patrick Have a Case?
It isn’t common to see an NFL player sue immediately after an injury sustained during a game. So, does Patrick have a case?
To prove fault in personal injury, Patrick must:
- Prove the accident was caused by another party. Patrick would need to show that the defendants’ negligence directly led to his sideline fall.
- Prove the accident led to injury. Patrick will need to show that his season-ending injury is a direct result of the sideline accident.
- Prove the accident led to damages. Patrick will need to show how he experienced physical, financial, and emotional losses due to the accident.
Details of Patrick’s contract indicate that he could lose roughly $325,000 because the injury led to his season being cut short. The jury will determine if the defendants are responsible for creating an unsafe space that led to Patrick’s injury. They will also decide how much Patrick is due based on physical, financial, and emotional losses caused by the injury.
Find a Personal Injury to Fight for You
If the negligence of another party limits your earning potential, you have a legal right to fight for damages. If you find yourself at a loss due to the negligence of another party, talk to a personal injury attorney right away. Work with a personal injury lawyer who can fight to get what is owed to you.
TJ Grimaldi is an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for you — and only accept payment if you win your case. See how TJ can help you make a claim to get what is legally owed to you. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.