The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Atco Raceway Sued for Not Making Drag Racing Safe

Drag racing is fun to watch because of its danger. Sure, it's not as dangerous as Formula 1 racing can be, because in F1 you are driving 200 mph and then are expected to turn. In drag racing, however, there are dangers in the measures taken to get your hot rod down the quarter-mile in the least amount of time.

The Atco Speedway in Camden was reminded of this danger in September 2010 when driver Jose Cruz crashed into the wall and his car burst into flames. Cruz suffered second- and third-degree burns and died a year later. His widow Evelyn Cruz is now suing the Speedway and the National Hot Rod Association for failing to provide a safe premises for drag racing.

Evelyn Cruz's Acto Speedway lawsuit alleges that when Jose Cruz crashed, the ambulance with fire extinguishers failed to start, requiring Cruz's nephew to sprint down the track with a fire extinguisher, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, it must be proven that a person died because of another person's criminal act or tort. Torts are personal injury claims like battery or negligence. Here, because there was no intentional act, the claim would be based on the theory of negligence.

A negligence claim arises from another person's breach of a legal duty to a victim. All people have the duty to act reasonably. When you own or control property, you have a duty to make it safe to anyone invited onto your property. If you are in business and invite the public to attend, then you have a duty to discover potential dangers and either repair or warn the public about them.

There are some potential issues that may affect the Acto Speedway lawsuit. First is the fact that Cruz died a year after being injured. While this does not mean that he did not die from his injuries, it could make it more difficult to link the death to the crash.

Also, the speedway claims its ambulance was at the scene and functioning properly. Further, it claims there was a truck with fire extinguishers on-site that properly responded to the fire. If the speedway can show that responded reasonably, then Cruz's lawsuit will not succeed.

As with all lawsuits, the fate of the Acto Speedway lawsuit may come down to whether the speedway was properly prepared for a crash and whether its response was reasonable. An out-of-court settlement is also possible.

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