Tailgating Penalties Football Fans Can’t Afford To Make

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With football season officially kicked off, fans will be taking to stadiums for the hallowed tradition that is tailgating, where many leave their inhibitions by the wayside. To prevent potential injuries, the personal injury firm of Handler Henning & Rosenberg is offering tips to ensure tailgaters make it to the game and back home in one piece.

Tailgating and a certain amount of rowdiness go hand in hand, and that’s perfectly acceptable so long as certain lines aren’t crossed. But when alcohol consumption begins to get out of hand or foodborne illness prevention lapses, people can get hurt

Whether rooting for the Eagles, Steelers, or Ravens, it’s a good time to be an NFL fan in the state of Pennsylvania. Football season is officially here, and while it’s impossible to tell what the future holds for either team, fans can focus on more pressing matters: tailgating.

Tailgating has become as much a part of the game as tackling, with some people camping out for hours or even days to root on their teams. It’s important, though, for sports fans to tailgate responsibly, as superfandom stops and liability begins the moment others are put at risk.

W. Scott Henning wants football fans to have a good time at their tailgating party, but not at the cost of safety. He and the rest of the personal injury team at Handler Henning & Rosenberg know that certain precautions can be taken to make a party as enjoyable and safe as possible.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a football game,” said Mr. Henning. “Tailgating and a certain amount of rowdiness go hand in hand, and that’s perfectly acceptable so long as certain lines aren’t crossed. But when alcohol consumption begins to get out of hand or foodborne illness prevention lapses, people can get hurt. Not only may some people never make it to the game, but they could end up watching it from the emergency room.”

To make sure that doesn’t happen, the firm has compiled a series of penalties that tailgaters must avoid or risk being penalized for life.

•Illegal Food To The Mouth (Foodborne Illness #1)- When preparing some kind of dish for the party, the last thing fans want is for everyone to have to sit out the game because an inadequately cooked pork loin is coming back up. Cook food all the way through before serving.

•Roughing The Stomach (Foodborne Illness #2)- On the way to the game, one must keep ready-to-eat foods separate from raw items so that potential contaminants don’t travel from one to the other. As the tailgating party winds to a close, be sure to promptly put on ice any food that can be saved for later. If something has sat out for upwards of two hours, the risk simply isn’t worth it. That goes double for items that have sat in a hot car; coming back out at halftime to graze can create more fireworks than the halftime show.

•Illegal Motion (Drinking and Driving)- In November 2009, National Public Radio featured a story called “Reining In Tailgate Parties A Challenge For Colleges” that talked about how out of hand drinking has become at tailgate parties. That story related research from the University of Minnesota that found persons leaving a game who tailgated prior to the event were five times as inclined to have a BAC above the legal limit as those who did not tailgate.

This is irresponsible and unacceptable. Anyone who drinks alcohol has to have a plan for getting home that doesn’t involve getting behind the wheel. This plan should take the form of a taxi service or having a designated driver who can bring everyone home safely. A hotel room within walking distance is another option.

•Path Interference (Drinking and Walking)- A tailgater doesn’t have to drive to suffer consequences related to intoxication. With vehicles moving through the parking lot on a regular basis, individuals put themselves in harm’s way when their decision making process and balance are clouded by alcohol. When drinking, fans should stick to their general area and respect the rules of the road and the rights of motor vehicles.

•Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Aggressive Behavior)- Sportsmanship should be the name of the game. Just because someone walks through the area wearing the jersey of an opposing team does not give a tailgater the right to start a fight. Such situations can lead to serious injuries.

•Too Many Embers On The Field (Grill Fires)- When grilling, one should take the same kinds of precautions that would be taken at home. Once embers have been lit, no additional lighter fluid should be applied unless the flames are out. That fluid should be applied conservatively, and when finished, the embers should be doused with water and discarded in an appropriate receptacle.

Handler Henning & Rosenberg has been assisting injured parties for more than 90 years. W. Scott Henning and the rest of the firm’s partners offer representation to those injured in a host of practice areas, including automobile accidents, defective medical devices, premises liability, dog bites, and more. Those injured at a tailgating party or elsewhere may call to obtain a free consultation or click the following link to learn more about the firm’s services.

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Becky S. Voras
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