Personal Injuries at the Houston Rodeo

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

Rodeos in Texas are a cultural staple. In fact, the very first rodeo took place in Pescos, Texas in 1883. With bullriding and activities such as tractor pulls and pony rides, the rodeo is often heralded as a family-friendly event. 

It’s not surprising that rodeos can be dangerous for those in the ring. What may be surprising though, is that rodeos can also be dangerous for those outside the ring. Spectators can also be injured – and they have been many times before. But when someone is injured in a rodeo accident, who can be held liable? Are attendees barred from recovering for their injuries because of waivers on the ticket and those they also sign? Well, it depends. 

With the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo expected to draw more than 2 million people to NRG Park this year, it’s important to understand your rights – before you attend.

Attending the Rodeo Can Be Risky

While getting bucked or struck by a bull is often the first thing that comes to mind when considering the danger of rodeos, it’s definitely not the only one. Even just attending a rodeo can prove risky. In fact, in 2013, Bonnie Herndon attended a Toby Keith concert on the opening day of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In an effort to get back to her car quickly after the concert, she hopped on a volunteer-driven golf cart shuttle. Sadly, Herndon was thrown from the front seat, landing head-first on the pavement and suffering severe brain damage. 

Sometimes animals get out of their enclosures, causing injury to attendees. This was the case in November 2010 when a bull jumped over a gate and into a crowd at the Edmonton rodeo. The same thing happened in 2011 at a rodeo in North Carolina. In both cases its unclear as to whether there were injuries. 

Assumption of the Risk Does Not Negate Negligence

While people can expect to see dangerous animals at the rodeo, there are still incidents in which the rodeo company can still be held liable for negligence. In Texas, someone who has expressly and knowingly agreed to a dangerous activity or condition, either in writing or verbally, has “assumed the risk.” 

Assumption of the risk can therefore be a defense when someone is injured in a foreseeable manner. But while a spectator may assume the risk by attending a rodeo, having proper protections in place for attendees, such as medical personnel who properly and promptly care for any injured persons, is necessary in order not to be negligent. This is because it is reasonable. For instance, in the two aforementioned instances in which the bulls jumped the fences, the rodeos have been accused of negligence for not building tall enough fences so as to prevent the bulls from being able to jump and clear them. 

Rodeo companies are expected to uphold their duty of care to take reasonable measures to protect attendees. Negligence on the part of the rodeo is not eliminated simply because spectators choose to attend and be around dangerous animals or other risks. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Injured at a Rodeo

If you suffered a personal injury at a rodeo due to the recklessness or negligence of another, it’s vital that you understand to what you are entitled under the law. With this information under your belt, you can make the important decisions regarding how you want to move forward. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Texas personal injury attorney.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the impact that an accident can have on many parts of your life and the importance of properly dealing with such negligence or recklessness. That’s why we will work to get you the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.