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Friday, August 04, 2006
Deer, Racetracks, and Torts

There is a very unfortunate story out of Road America, a racetrack located in Elkhart Wisconsin:
There are many ways that driver can get injured in an open-wheel racing car. A 100-mph collision with a deer isn't one that usually comes to mind.

But that's the fate that befell Cristiano da Matta on Thursday during a routine test day at Road America. According to witnesses, the 32-year old Brazilian's RuSPORT Racing Lola struck the animal after it darted onto the track from the driver's right on the uphill run to the blind, left-hand Turn 6. The impact knocked da Matta unconscious [and he suffered a ruptured blood vessel on the surface of the brain and remains in critical condition] . . .

Road America media director Julie Sebranek said she had never heard of a similar incident at the track. "The race track has been here for 50 years. It's highly, highly unusual," Sebranek said Friday.

An 8-foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire circles the 628-acre property, which is surrounded by wooded terrain and farm fields.

When asked how the deer got onto the property, Sebranek said: "They have been known to jump the 8-foot fences. It's just a freak thing and we just maintain the property as we do on a daily basis."

Attorney John Powers has some interesting torts questions based on these facts:

1) Does a racetrack owe a duty to its drivers to keep the track in safe condition?
2) Is a deer running onto the track foreseeable?
3) How high are the fences?
4) How high can deer jump?
5) Do racetracks make drivers sign waivers?


From Personal Experience - Chasing Deer off of tracks ...

there is no feasable way to keep them out .. no matter what the effort is on the part of the facility ..

All drivers and anyone else attending Motorsport events .. sign off on any legal recourse ...

The final choice is up to the driver/or anyone else .. if you aren't comfortable with what is presented to you .. then depart the facility.

As for Road America - it is a top notch facility.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/06/2006 3:22 PM  

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