You may remember a race car accident last year in which a driver got out of his car and started walking on the racetrack yelling at the driver that hit him. That driver, Tony Stewart, then hit the first driver, Kevin Ward, who later died from his injuries. ESPN is now reporting that Kevin Ward's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tony Stewart.
It will be interesting to see how the court addresses the claim because it raises several issues. First of all, drivers who engage in race car driving assume the inherent risks of the sport, one of which is death. However, the plaintiffs will argue that the plaintiff does not assume the risk of having a car driven into him the way Stewart did in this instance. In reply, Stewart will probably argue that Ward was contributorily negligent in walking on the race track as the race was ongoing. Depending on the rule in the jurisdiction, this argument may be enough to win the case for the defendant.
According to the lawsuit, Stewart gunned the throttle of his car to kick the tail end out as he drove by Ward, unlike the
other cars that had passed through that section. “Stewart
could have easily acted reasonably and with prudence to avoid striking
Ward, just as all other drivers had done as they passed Ward during the
yellow caution flag,” reads the lawsuit. “Stewart acted with disregard
for Ward’s life and safety by driving his vehicle in a manner that would
terrorize Ward ...” In other words, the plaintiffs seem to be arguing that Stewart purposely tried to scare Ward. If that is the case, I wonder if they also included a count for battery in the complaint.
Here is a video of the accident itself: