When the world's number one ranked male golfer, Rory McIlroy, suffered a nasty ankle injury which prevented him from defending the British Open golf championship this summer, instead of sympathy, he faced criticism because his injury occurred during a football kick-about he was having with friends.
The good news for Rory is that he was able to make a swift recovery no doubt helped by the intervention of first class medical care and the steely determination inherent in the characters of so many of our sporting heroes.
In 1993, the Chelsea goalkeeper Dave Beasant was unfortunate enough to drop a bottle of salad cream on his foot, severing a tendon as a result. Although he will also be remembered for saving a penalty in an FA Cup final and for having a rather fetching footballers perm, I wonder how many people think about how much that bottle of salad cream must have hurt. It may be comedy gold but I bet it was incredibly painful.
We mustn’t forget motor racing legend Michael Schumacher who, together with his family, continues to face challenges on the long and difficult road to recovery following the holiday skiing accident in the French Alps that nearly killed him.
With family in mind, one evening last week I was engaging in the nightly battle that is bath time with my four-year-old daughter. She was intent on playing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" despite standing in a slippery bath tub, head-to-toe in soapy bubbles. It was a well fought battle which er…she won. At the time, I had the radio on and was listening to the US Open tennis commentary from New York.
It was announced that Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard had been forced to withdraw from the tournament having suffered a head injury when she slipped on a locker room floor. Even what are termed ‘minor’ head injuries are still going to involve some uncomfortable symptoms and despite her spirited intention to continue playing, doctor's orders prevailed.
I suppose Miss Bouchard will lose some of her potential prize money but it appears she has a lucrative contract with a leading sports equipment provider and as she is currently ranked at number 25 on the tour, I doubt she’ll be short of a cent or two. Nevertheless, this will naturally have been very distressing for her. Playing tennis is how she earns a living and a simple accidental fall could obviously be career-threatening. Hopefully, she will soon be back competing.
Making a claim for compensation is probably not something she will be thinking about, but as a personal injury lawyer, I can't help but think about the legal implications of what has just happened to her. Apparently, the locker room light was off at the time and Miss Bouchard slipped on a floor described as "slick." I often represent people who have injured themselves by slipping on a wet surface at work. Whether their accident took place in a supermarket aisle, gym changing room, or on a factory floor, it's very much the same case here.
Clearly, I have to be mindful that I’m speculating about the fact I suspect Miss Bouchard could probably succeed in a claim for compensation against the organisers of the US Open or whoever was responsible for keeping the floor of the workplace free from danger. What’s important though is that accidents of this nature can happen to anyone regardless of who they are or whether or not they’re in the public eye.
Common work accident environments such as factories, kitchens and construction sites may all be a long way from our minds while we’re out enjoying the buzz and glamour of major sporting events, but it’s important to remember that our sporting heroes are just as vulnerable as the rest of us.
Whether you’re a sports star, movie star, super gran, star mum, dad, son or daughter, if you’ve had an accident that wasn’t your fault, we can help you get your game back on track.
John Reeder is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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