Rugby liability ruling ‘sets legal precedent’ for sport claims, says lawyer | News

Lawyers for a mother-of-two who suffered life-changing injuries from a dangerous rugby tackle say the court’s affirmative liability decision paves the way for similar cases.

Dani Czernuszka, now 34, broke her spine after a challenge from Natasha King during an amateur game between Reading Sirens and Bracknell Ladies in 2017.

The victim, seven stone lighter than her opponent, had crouched waiting to pick up the ball but was knocked down by King, who put her full weight on her neck and back, a judge noted. Czernuszka, who now plays para ice hockey for Team GB, was hospitalized for six months and will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

In a judgment released last week, Justice Martin Spencer accepted that sports injury claims are rare, but that players “cannot be immune from the law of negligence.” In that case, King reportedly threatened to “break” the victim minutes before the injury, and the judge said she “did exactly what she set out to do” by launching an assault in “reckless disregard for the plaintiff.” carried out security’.

Dani Czernuszka

Damian Horan, legal director of London law firm Aspire Law, who represented Czernuszka, said the claim could be worth up to £10million, which would ensure she gets the financial and rehabilitation support she needs. He suggested the ruling could allow for more sporting claims after clarifying the application of previous spinal cord injury case law.

“Rugby is a sport that players and spectators can enjoy from grassroots to professional play,” Horan said. “However, this case is a timely reminder that a player’s actions on the pitch can never stay on the pitch and can have disastrous consequences. The result sets a precedent for future sports injury claims related to spinal cord injury and we hope Ms Czernuska’s case will go a long way towards raising awareness of the dangers of foul play on the sports field.’

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Czernuszka said: “I’m grateful for today’s verdict and for finally clearing up all untruths and fabrications about what happened that day during the game. Learning to live with my life changing injuries has been difficult and something I could not have done without the support of my family and close friends.

“Sport has always been a great joy in life and I don’t blame the game of rugby for what happened that day. Ultimately, I feel let down by inappropriate and bad behavior from the opposing player, coaching staff and referee.

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