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NASCAR Fan Settles Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuit

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

A crash during the final lap of 2013 race at the Daytona International Speedway sent driver Kyle Larson's car airborne into the catch fence and debris flying into the grandstand. Some of that debris struck Allen Davis in the head, causing a catastrophic, traumatic brain injury.

Davis sued NASCAR and Daytona's parent company, International Speedway Corp., and was seeking NASCAR's investigation report of the accident. But the two parties settled out of court, allowing NASCAR to keep the report under wraps.

Race for His Life

Davis was sitting in the upper deck during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race when, according to the lawsuit, he "was struck in the head by a heavy piece of debris and suffered a catastrophic, traumatic brain injury." More than 30 other fans were also injured when a gate in the fencing around the track buckled and sheared the front off the front of Larson's car, sending a wheel, along with still-attached suspension pieces, into the stands. The other legal claims had all been resolved, and Davis's lawyer was on the eve of deposing six NASCAR drivers about the crash.

"He is actively engaged with a rehab hospital and he has a full-time health-care advocate," Davis's attorney Dan Iracki told ESPN Monday night, "and he's trying to make the best of his situation. This recovery is going to change [Davis'] life -- it will help in making sure he is taken care of the rest of his life."

NASCAR was battling the release of several reports and documents relating to the crash, including:

  • A crash reconstruction by its top two safety engineers to analyze what happened;
  • The design elements of the track fencing;
  • A review of track fencing and crossover gate fencing;
  • The design of a new Daytona flag stand, including grout specifications, and bracket and post specifications; and
  • Modifications to Daytona's fencing after that accident.

(Since the 2013 crash, the speedway said it has improved safety measures, including strengthening the fencing in several spots.) NASCAR claimed these documents were covered by attorney-client privilege. With the settlement, those documents will likely remain secret.

Suing over sporting event injuries can be tricky. While there is premises liability for places that open themselves to the public, some courts have found fans assume the risk of injury or waive venue liability by purchasing tickets and attending sporting events, and a special "baseball rule" exempts most ballparks from injury claims.

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