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NASCAR Crash, Injured Fans, and Assumption of Risk

February 26th, 2013 at 12:04 PM
By Darsh U. Patel

In a scary moment during Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway, 28 spectators were injured by debris from a violent and disfiguring crash involving driver Kyle Larson's racecar. Two spectators in particular were hospitalized when they were hit with a tire that flew into the stands; they are currently in stable condition.

ESPN reported that three of the injured spectators hired an Orlando-based law firm, Morgan & Morgan, to represent them in potential claims against Daytona International Speedway, Turner Scott Motorsports (the owner of Larson's car), and NASCAR, among others. 

If the case goes to trial, the defendants may prevail by the assumption of risk defense. NASCAR includes a waiver on the back of all tickets; the waiver on the back of the Daytona Nationwide ticket read: "The holder of the ticket expressly assumes all risk incident of the event, whether occurring prior to, during or subsequently to the actual event, and agrees that all participants, sanctioning bodies and employees, agents, officers and directors of Daytona International Speedway, its affiliates and subsidiaries, are hereby released from any and all claims arriving from the event, including claims of negligence.'' The defendants can argue that plaintiffs voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risk of dangerous debris when they purchased their tickets and attended the event. The court would simply have to find that the three plaintiffs voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risk of getting hit by flying tires, and that defendants did not act recklessly in contributing to the injuries.

More likely, the parties will settle. In 1999, plaintiffs filed fifty lawsuits after a tire went over the catch fence at Charlotte Motor Speedway and killed three spectators during an IRL race. Former CMS president H.A. "Humpy'' Wheeler told ESPN.com the track settled for "somewhere between $10 and $15 million'' before the cases went to trial.

Tags: Law, NASCAR, Nationwide Series, Sports, Sports Law

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