Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013
Crash Casts Light on Fan Safety
WSIL -- New questions about safety at racetracks are coming to the forefront after a weekend crash in Houston spilled into the stands.
The accident that happened Sunday during an IndyCar race. More than a dozen spectators were hurt along with the driver. It's the second accident involving injured spectators in the last eight months.
The injuries happened after spectators were hit by flying debris that got past the racetrack's protective fencing.
So who's liable for these types of accidents and injuries?
I-57 Drag Strip owner Scott Bailey says accidents are part of the business, "We have races get over 150mph every weekend. We usually deal with someone going into a guard rail about one out of every 10 evenings that we race."
Bailey says no fans have been injured since he took over the drag strip several years ago but other local tracks haven't fared as well.
"You enter this facility at your own risk and everyone that comes to watch a race or participate in a race has to be aware of that," said Bailey.
In 2005, two people were killed and six more injured at Mt. Vernon Raceway after a car slammed into the bleachers.
"You go to the race and you are sitting in the stands and if you get hurt you think you can sue somebody," said local attorney John Womick. "The ticket may have given away your rights to sue for negligence it says you waive your claim for negligence. You recognize there is a risk there."
Winning a suit comes down to proving the track was unsafe, before the crash.
"You would have to prove willful and reckless conduct on the part of the racetrack owners who operate the facility," said Womick.
In the 2005 Mt. Vernon crash the raceway's insurance company reached an undisclosed settlement with the families of those were were injured.
PRESS Inc., a racing safety company, says an average of 2,000 spectators are injured at U.S. racetracks every year.
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