Automobile racing is an inherently dangerous sport due to the high speeds. Crashes on the track can mean serious injuries or even fatalities to participants as well as spectators, which could lead to negligence actions against the racing facility's owner.
Racing facility owner's duty
An owner owes a duty to provide a reasonably safe place for spectators to view the race and to properly maintain the track area for participants. The owner will not be liable to spectators or participants in the absence of knowledge of the danger that caused an injury or a lack of foreseeability of the injury.
Breach of duty to spectators
Negligence cases against owners generally involve injuries caused by automobiles or parts striking spectators. The acts of negligence may include a failure to provide adequate seating in a safe location, a failure to warn of the danger involved in viewing the race in certain locations, a failure to keep cars in proper condition, or a failure to erect or maintain adequate barriers or other safeguards.
Breach of duty to participants
An owner may breach the duty of care owed to participants by failing to properly maintain the track area, which includes the repair pit area. Foreign objects on the track that cause participants to lose control of their cars or even crash may give rise to the owner's liability.
An injured spectator may be contributorily negligent and unable to fully recover or to recover at all if he intentionally entered a portion of the race track area that was closed to spectators in order to view a race.
Some courts find that a spectator assumes the risk of being struck by an automobile or flying parts because such risks are obvious. Other courts disagree, especially if the spectator is a novice to automobile races.
A participant in a race assumes the ordinary risks of the sport, such as a wet track. However, he does not assume extraordinary and unexpected risks, such as the presence of obstructions near the track or the failure of the owner to use emergency facilities.
Copyright 2009 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.