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Did injured Daytona 500 fans assume the risk?

The 2013 Daytona 500 had the makings of a classic race. The first female driver to hold the pole position, the reunification of past winners, and the intrigue of who was going to unseat Brad Keslelowski as the reigning Sprint Cup Champion.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Dozens of race fans were injured on Saturday afternoon when a spectacular crash occurred. The crash involved several vehicles and sent car fragments (even a tire) into the stands. Injured fans were taken to local hospitals to treat injuries ranging from lacerations to broken bones.

In light of the injuries, no reports have surfaced regarding the structural integrity of the safety fences. In the meantime, Florida reports that several injured fans have consulted an Orlando-based law firm to explore the possibility of a lawsuit.

Legal experts are split regarding the actual viability of a suit, mainly because of the waiver of liability that is commonly included on tickets to sports venues. Essentially, the fan agrees that he or she assumes the risk of objects coming from the field and possibly injuring them, especially if they are not paying attention to their surroundings. A common example is a person sitting courtside at a Houston Rockets game, and a player dives (or slides) into the courtside seats and spills hot coffee onto the fan.

However, there is an exception to the assumption of risk theory. The stadium owner (or the team) showed a complete failure to use reasonable care in protecting fans, they could be found to be grossly negligent. Also, there could be challenges raised as to whether the injured fans properly consented to assuming the risk of possible injured fans.

In the meantime, NASCAR and the injured fans' attorney expect to reach a settlement.

Source:, Injured Daytona race fans explore legal options, February 26, 2013

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