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Injuries at Daytona Speedway Raise Questions about Sporting Event Tickets and Liability Disclaimers

It’s a rare case where victims may be barred from obtaining compensation for injuries caused by someone else.

Sporting Event Tickets and Liability

More than 30 people were injured at Daytona International Speedway last month when a wreck involving two NASCAR racers caused debris to shoot into a crowd of spectators. Consequently, the prospect of a law suit has emerged, but it could be a difficult case for the victims to win.

On its face, the situation might otherwise appear to be a typical case of negligence in which one party—the Speedway—is potentially at fault and hence liable to compensate any injured spectators for their damages and losses. But the case is actually more complicated than a standard negligence case because the spectators’ purchase of a ticket to attend the race constitutes a contract.

The important thing about ticket contracts to races and other sporting events is that they generally contain provisions which disclaim event organizers from liability for accidents suffered at the event. So the first question in the case at hand would be to determine whether the liability disclaimer in NASCAR’s ticket contract protects the organization from a lawsuit.

Some Florida courts consistently honor liability disclaimer provisions, which in this case would mean that the injured victims would be unable to collect compensation for their damages. But it is also possible that a court could find that Daytona International Speedway’s level of fault rises to the level of gross negligence, in which case the disclaimer would be ineffective to bar the spectators’ claim.

The ticket disclaimer raises an issue in contract law, as opposed to personal injury tort law, which is based on a breach of duty of care that one person owe to another. The goal of Florida tort law is to make the victims of negligence as well off as they would be if the accident had not occurred, and accident victims can generally recover for all losses suffered, including the costs of medical bills and lost opportunities.

But really, the likeliest resolution of any cases brought by spectators is an out-of-court settlement rather than an expensive, fiercely fought legal battle. If you are the victim of a serious accident, the Florida personal injury attorneys at Fetterman and Associates may be able to help. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation.

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