Eugenie Bouchard, Canadian tennis player and Wimbledon finalist in 2014, is suing the United States Tennis Association after slipping on a substance left on the floor of the players’ physiotherapy room at Flushing Meadows, New York.
Although this would be a standard Occupiers Liability Act claim in the UK, the potential liability for the accident could be huge and quite difficult to quantify. In 2013, Bouchard’s annual income was $56,300 but rose to over $415,000 in 2014 and is $3,220,000 so far in 2015. Calculating her pre accident earnings will not be a simple matter of averaging what she earned in the months before the accident and extrapolating this figure over her period of absence, especially if the player is out of action for only a few months, because earnings will depend on both her form and on the potentially lucrative tournaments missed during her incapacity. By 2015 Eugenie Bouchard’s net worth was estimated at over $8,000,000 indicating that she earns more off court than in prize money from tournaments.
Top athletes rely on sponsorship for a significant part of their income and contracts for sponsorship can be conditional on certain performance achievements. This can mean that time out of the game could result in missed trigger payments or bonus payments. Expert evidence in cases like this is vital and can include the opinion of former professional sports stars who can comment on a player’s likely success during the missing months.
Charles O'Brien, personal injury lawyer at Penningtons Manches, acted for a world top five snooker player who, although he suffered only a relatively minor injury in a road traffic accident, was unable to stand for long periods of time or walk around a snooker table. We were able to recover significant damages as his tournament winnings dried up and his world rankings fell along with his sponsorship earnings which all took time to get back to pre-accident expectations.