Salty player on Sea of Thieves (Wants to take legal action)
How to Take Legal Action for Player to Official Violence
Violence against sporting officials is unfortunately common. Over the past several years, officials have been attacked by fans, coaches, and athletes. If a player commits a violent act against you, you should take legal action. Document your injuries and write a demand letter for compensation.
Documenting Your Injuries
Call the police.Assault is a crime, and you should call the police as soon as possible. The police will need to investigate and will ask you questions. Even if you don’t want to bring a lawsuit, you should call the police so that the player can be punished.
- Also get a copy of any police report that is filed. The police report will be good evidence to have in settlement negotiations, especially if the police report states that the player was at fault.
Get video of the player’s assault.You will need evidence to bring a lawsuit. The best evidence would be video evidence of the player attacking you. If the game was televised, then you should contact the television station and ask if you can get a copy of the game on tape. Tell whoever you speak to that you are bringing a legal action against the player.
- Even if a game isn’t televised, a fan might have videotaped the game from the stands. Ask around. If you officiated a high school or collegiate competition, ask the school if they have video. Although the school might not want to release it, you can force the school to hand over a copy after you file a lawsuit.
Write down your memories of the assault.As soon as possible, you should also write down your memories of the player assaulting you. This evidence could be helpful if no video evidence exists. Write down what the player said to you during the game and anything that you remember leading up to the attack. Also write down your memories of the attack itself.
- You can also get witnesses to write down their memories.Ask other officials who might have seen the player attack you if they would write out witness statements.
Take pictures of your injuries.Make sure that they are color photographs and clear. You want the full extent of any bruising, cuts, or swelling to be visible. If possible, make sure that the accurate date shows on the front of the photograph.
- Photographs are critical because your injuries will have healed by the time you get to a trial. Vivid, color photographs help bring home the full extent of the attack.
Get copies of your medical records.Your medical records will prove the extent of your injuries. You should get copies of records from any doctor or hospital that you visited to receive treatment for your injuries.
- Also remember to hang onto copies of your medical bills. You can be reimbursed for any money spent treating your injuries.
- You can be reimbursed for doctor’s bills, as well as any money spent on pain killers, other drugs, or supplies like splints and bandages.
Hire a lawyer to represent you.A qualified attorney will know what evidence you need in order to bring a successful legal action against the player. You can find a qualified attorney by asking other officials if they have ever sued a player for violence. If so, you can get the lawyer’s name.
- You can also find a personal injury lawyer by visiting your local or state bar association, which should run a referral program. Once you have the name of a lawyer, you should call and schedule a consultation.
- At the consultation, discuss how much it will cost to have the lawyer represent you. Generally, personal injury attorneys represent clients on “contingency.” This means that the lawyer doesn’t charge fees. Instead, the lawyer takes 33-40% of any amount of money you win at trial or in a settlement.
- You still are responsible for paying the costs of the lawsuit, such as fees for filing court documents or hiring court reporters.
Talk with your lawyer about how you can be compensated.You can sue the player for different kinds of “damages,” which is the legal term for money a court orders the defendant to pay you. Damages are meant either to compensate you or to punish the defendant. You should talk with your lawyer about what damages are available:
- Compensatory damages. The purpose of the lawsuit is to make you “whole,” i.e., to return you to what your life would be like had you never been injured. Accordingly, you get compensation to cover the costs of medical treatment, to replace lost wages, and to compensate for pain and suffering.
- Punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish a player if his or her conduct was especially offensive. Courts sometimes award punitive damages as a multiple of your compensatory damages. For example, if you win ,000 in compensatory damages, a judge might give you two times that amount in punitive damages (,000) for a total of ,000. Punitive damages are not allowed in every state.
Demanding Payment from the Player
Format the demand letter.You should set up your demand letter like a standard business letter. Make sure that the font is a comfortable size and style. Most people can read Times New Roman 12 point fairly comfortably.
- If the player is a minor in high school, then remember to address the letter to the player’s parents. A minor can be held responsible for injuries he or she caused. However, as a practical matter, the parents will be the ones to pay.
Explain your version of the incident.Provide relevant details, such as the date the player attacked you and what you did in return. Also make sure to always use the word “incident” or “assault.” Never say “accident,” since that word suggests the player wasn’t at fault for what happened.
- You could write, “As you know, I officiated the football game on November 1, 2015, when you assaulted me. After calling a play down, I turned around and you rushed up behind me and sucker punched me in the face. I had no chance to defend myself. After you punched me, the head official suspended the game and the police were called. You ultimately pleaded guilty to simple assault. Based on these facts, there is no question that you are civilly liable for assault and battery.”
Describe the extent of your injuries.Also describe the treatment you sought in order to address the injuries. You should also explain how much you spent on treatment for your injuries. Be sure to include copies of your medical reports and your medical bills.
- A sample description might read: “As a result of the assault, you broke my nose and cracked my right cheekbone. I was taken to the emergency room, where I received pain medication and was referred to a facial surgeon, Mrs. Carson, who I met with the next day. She set my nose in a splint and ordered X-rays to observe my facial bruising. I was prescribed pain killers and had to miss work for two weeks as the pain in my face made work impossible. My medical bills total ,000.”
- You can then create a chart which itemizes how much you spent for each doctor’s or hospital’s treatment. Also include a description of how much time you missed from work and how much you lost in wages.
End the letter with a demand for payment.In the final paragraph, you should close with a clear request for a specific sum of money. Also tell the player to contact you if he or she would like to discuss the matter further. If the player doesn’t have your phone number, then insert your phone number as well.
- For example, you could write, “Taking into account your liability and outrageous behavior for assaulting me during a game, I demand ,000 to settle this case. Please advise me about your thoughts on this matter. Thank you.”
- Type “Sincerely” and then your name underneath.
Negotiate with the player.After receiving the demand letter, the player might completely ignore you. In that case, you should go ahead and file a lawsuit. However, the player might reach out and express interest in negotiation. In that case, your lawyer should schedule a meeting.
- The player’s attorney will probably counter-offer with a much lower number than the one listed in your demand letter. You can then counter by dropping the amount you are requesting a little bit. For example, if you initially request ,000, you could drop a few thousand.
- Remember not to settle too quickly. Try to get the best deal you can. In fact, the player’s attorney expects you to negotiate.
Sign a settlement agreement.Should you reach an agreement, you should have your lawyers draft a settlement agreement. The agreement becomes a contract between you and the player.If the player violates the contract, for example by not paying you money, then you can sue in court.
Filing a Lawsuit against the Player
Draft a complaint.Your lawyer will start a lawsuit by filing a “complaint” in court. A complaint is a legal document which identifies you and the player. It also lays out your version of events: what the player did to you and how you were injured.
- In your complaint, you also state how much money you are suing for.
Serve notice of the complaint on the player.The player gets an opportunity to respond to your lawsuit. First, you must give him or her notice of the lawsuit by delivering a copy of the complaint and a “summons,” which you can get from the court clerk. The summons tells the player how much time he or she has to respond to your complaint.
- Your lawyer will likely hire a private process server to make hand delivery on the player. Process servers usually charge -75 per service.
Receive the player’s answer.The player generally has 30 days to formally respond, which he will do by filing an “answer” with the court. In the answer, the player responds to each allegation you made in your complaint, by either admitting, denying, or claiming insufficient knowledge to admit or deny.
- The player will deliver a copy of the answer to your lawyer. Be sure to get copies of all legal documents from your attorney so that you can stay involved in your case.
Ask the player to sit for a deposition.Once the player files an answer, your lawsuit enters a fact-finding phase called “discovery.” During discovery, you can ask witnesses questions in writing or in person. A “deposition” is a chance to ask someone questions face-to-face, which they must answer under oath.Your lawyer should ask the player to sit for a deposition.
- Depositions usually take place at an attorney’s office. It will be recorded, using either video or a court reporter.
- Your lawyer will ask the player to describe what happened. If, at trial, the player tells a different story, then your lawyer can introduce statements given in a deposition to discredit the player.
Sit for your own deposition.As the victim who filed the lawsuit, you will probably have to answer questions in a deposition as well. The player’s lawyer will schedule a time to question you. You can prepare for your deposition by remembering the following tips:
- Take your time. You should think before answering any question.
- Don’t guess. If you don’t know the answer to a question, then say that you don’t know.
- Ask to talk to your lawyer whenever you want. You have the right to consult with your lawyer at any time.
- Don’t volunteer information. You should always answer questions truthfully and completely, but don’t give away information. Listen closely to the question and answer only that question.
- Always tell the truth. If you lie, you will commit perjury, which is a crime.
Take part in additional discovery.In addition to conducting and sitting for depositions, you should also conduct other discovery that will help you collect and exchange information with the other party. During discovery you can collect facts, interview witnesses, find out what the other side is going to say at trial, and determine how strong your case is. To conduct thorough discovery, consider completing the following:
- Informal discovery, which includes interviewing witnesses, obtaining publicly available documents, and taking photographs.
- Interrogatories, which are written questions that a party or witness will be required to answer. These questions are answered under oath and can be used in court.
- Requests for documents, which are formal requests sent to the other party asking for documents that are not available to the public. This might include emails, text messages, or internal memos.
- Subpoenas, which are court orders requiring someone to do something (e.g., hand over documents or submit to an interview).
Defend against a motion for summary judgment.After discovery, the defendant will often file a motion for summary judgment. This motion attempts to end the litigation before it ever gets to trial. To be successful, the defendant will have to show there is no genuine dispute to any material facts and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law (i.e., there is no way you could win). They will do this by submitting evidence and affidavits to the judge.
- To defend this motion, you will submit your own evidence and affidavits showing there are disputes over material facts and that a trial is needed to resolve these issues.
- When the judge analyzes the motion, he or she will look at all of the evidence and make any assumptions in your favor.
- If you win this motion, the litigation will continue.
Try again to settle your claim.Even though you have demanded payment from the player before filing your suit, now is usually a good time to try and settle again before the case goes to trial. Trials are expensive and time consuming and if you get the opportunity to agree to a favorable settlement, you can avoid the trial.
- Some negotiations take place during settlement conferences in the judge's chambers. There, you and the other party will discuss your options in front of the judge. The judge will not make any rulings on law or fact but they will help you find common ground.
- If you cannot reach an agreement during settlement conferences, you may want to take part in mediation. During mediation, a neutral third party will sit with both parties and attempt to find ways to settle. Mediators do not act like judges and they do not make decisions, they simply help foster a healthy conversation while pushing both parties towards an agreement.
- When mediation fails, you will usually try one more settlement tactic, which is arbitration. During arbitration, a neutral third party will act as a judge. He or she will look at evidence, listen to testimony, and come to substantive conclusions. After each party has presented their case to the arbitrator, he or she will issue a written opinion. The opinion will set forth the arbitrator's ruling as well as what should be paid in damages. Most times, the arbitration will be non-binding, which means neither party will be bound by the opinions of the arbitrator.
File pretrial motions.Right before trial starts, pretrial motions will be filed and responded to. Motions are written requests to the court asking it to make decisions on various issues. When a party submits a pretrial motion, the other party will have an opportunity to respond. Once both parties have written on the issue, the judge will make a ruling. Some common pretrial motions include:
- Motion to dismiss. This motion asks the judge to throw out the case because there is not enough evidence or because the facts do not amount to a cause of action.
- Motion to suppress. This motion asks the court to bar certain evidence from being admitted at trial. This will usually be because you or the other party thinks it does not meet some standard set out in the rules of evidence.
- Motion for change of venue. This motion asks the court to move the trial somewhere else. This often happens in highly publicized cases where one party thinks the publicity will taint the outcome of the case.
Go to trial.At the trial, your lawyer will present your evidence: video, eyewitness testimony, documents which show your injury, etc. As the person bringing the lawsuit, you will go first. The player will then present evidence second, as part of his or her defense.
- In state court, you can win even if the jury is not unanimous. For example, in most states you can win if nine or 10 people on a 12-person jury agree with you. If you are in federal court, then the jury must be unanimous.
- If you lose, you might want to appeal. You should talk this over with your lawyer. Appeals can be time-consuming and costly. However, you can bring an appeal if you think that you have a strong argument that the judge made an error. You need to decide quickly whether to bring an appeal. States generally give you only 30 days after final judgment is entered to file your Notice of Appeal.In some states you get less time.
- This article has discussed suing for physical injuries caused by the player’s violence. Remember that you might also be able to sue for defamation. For example, the player might defend his violent conduct by claiming that you made racial or homophobic slurs while on the playing field. If this is false, then you could tack on a claim for defamation. Talk to your lawyer.
- Always be sure to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment. If the doctor tells you to stay off your feet, then don’t go outside. You don’t want the player to claim that you made your injuries worse by not following doctor’s orders.
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