Can A Snowball Fight Get You Sued?

Can a snowball fight get you sued? Snowball fights among friends and family are a winter tradition for some, but if you end up hitting the wrong person you can get hit back - with a lawsuit!

Even If It Was Accidental, It Could Be Considered Assault And Battery

Not everyone is a fan of snowball fights. You might assume that your neighbor will respond with laughter to the snowball that you playfully lobbed his or her way. The reality, however, is that your snowball toss is actually a form of battery. If your neighbor saw you coming and raised his or her hands in self-defense, you could also be guilty of assault.

Most people think of assault and battery in terms of criminal charges, but they can also lead to a personal injury claim (even if no criminal charges were ever filed).

  • Assault occurs when you intentionally cause someone to fear immediate harm or offensive contact with his or her body.
  • Battery is when you actually make that contact. It's important to note that the battery doesn't have to cause actual physical injury - it can simply be contact that a reasonable person finds offensive.

For example, suppose that your aim was a little off when you pitched the snowball. Instead of hitting your neighbor's arm, your snowball hit your neighbor in the face. He or she felt humiliated because of the witnesses around who saw the event - one of which was his or her boss. The next thing you know, you're the subject of a lawsuit alleging battery and emotional distress.

Realistically, however, the lawsuit would probably be over actual damages caused by your snowball assault. An ice-laden snowball, thrown hard enough, can end up chipping someone's tooth, breaking his or her glasses, or tearing a muscle in his or her shoulder. That would leave you responsible for his or her medical bills, plus loss wages and any other damages.

You Have To Be Careful When You Engage In Rough Play

What if the person injured in the snowball fight willingly joined in? 

If the person you hit with the snowball was actively engaged in the fight with you, you probably won't be liable for his or her injuries. The law says that a person who engages in risky behavior (like snowball fights, sledding, or skiing) assumes the risk of any injury that one might normally expect in that situation.

In that case, exactly when the injury occurred during the fight might be an important part of your case.

For example, say that your neighbor initially laughed at your first snowball and then proceeded to pummel you with snowballs of his or her own. You returned fire, and the situation got out of hand. You ended up throwing a snowball too hard, and your neighbor got knocked over by it, and injured his shoulder in the process.

Your attorney (such as one from Stapleton Law Offices) could argue that your neighbor willingly engaged in the snowball fight, treating it like a game, and therefore assumed the associated risks of injury during the game. If the court agreed, you wouldn't be responsible for his or her injuries.

A lot of people turn to things like snowball fights to alleviate the boredom and frustration of winter weather. Be careful, however, when you engage others in this sort of activity. Make sure that they are willing participants and take steps to make sure that you don't accidentally end up in a lawsuit!