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NASCAR fans injured at pre-Daytona 500 race explore legal options

February 27, 2013|By Houston Mitchell
  • Emergency workers tend to fans injured by flying debris from a crash in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Emergency workers tend to fans injured by flying debris from a crash in a… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)

The attorney for three NASCAR fans injured during a race the day before the Daytona 500 says they are discussing suing NASCAR, but that he hopes to reach a settlement and preclude a lawsuit.

Attorney Matt Morgan did not identify his clients. He said two of them were seated directly in front of the crash and sustained injuries ranging from a fractured fibula to abdominal swelling. All have been released from the hospital.

More than 30 people were injured Saturday after a wreck on the last lap of a Nationwide Series race sent debris, including a heavy tire, into the stands.

"Ultimately, I believe it would be gross negligence," Morgan said. "We all know that when you go to a race you assume a certain amount of risk. But what people don't assume is that a race car will come flying into the stands .... That's why they make the fences."

Asked to comment on the fans' retention of a law firm, NASCAR spokesman David Higdon wrote in a statement, "We are unaware of any lawsuits filed."

Some experts say there could be grounds for a lawsuit, and that courts have looked past liability waivers written on the backs of sporting event tickets. Others maintain the ticket is a legal contract that could be hard to overcome in court.

Donnalynn Darling, a New York-based attorney who has been practicing personal injury law for 30 years, said there is a theory that a spectator who buys tickets to a sporting event assumes the risk of objects coming out of the field of play, such as a foul ball at a baseball game, but that event organizers must also act to prevent injuries.

"Did the sporting event promoter take action to prevent that specific risk?" Darling asked. "In terms of this fence ... it was put up to prevent people from being hurt. You have people who were not only injured by falling debris, but by the failure of the fence."

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