An instructor for the Exotic Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway was killed when a Lamborghini in which he was a passenger lost control and slammed into a guardrail, which impaled the vehicle.
The crash occurred on a closed track with no other vehicles. Patrons pay hundreds of dollars to race luxury vehicles, and there is some degree of assumed risk. However, theme park officials have a duty to patrons and employees to understand that when dealing with inexperienced drivers operating high-powered cars at excessive speeds, accidents are more likely to occur and appropriate precautions must be taken.
Specifically, there is much discussion within the racing community about why this vehicle was being driven in the opposite direction from that which the track was designed. While NASCAR vehicles at the track travel in one direction – the direction for which the track was designed – the luxury vehicles travel in another. The big concern with this is not only that painted lines on the road may have caused confusion, but also whether striking the guardrail in the other direction could have contributed to the fatal crash.
Guardrails on public roads have drawn a great deal of controversy and civil litigation in recent years. In November, a man won a federal whistleblower lawsuit after alleging the design of the guardrails was altered by the manufacturer without permission from transportation officials, and changes to the design of the guardrail heads made them likely to impale vehicles, rather than deflect them on impact.
Several other lawsuits by those who have been injured or killed in guardrail-related traffic accidents are pending.
In this case, it is possible decedent’s family could pursue a product liability case, though it would depend on whether the guardrail was designed to protect traffic coming from the opposite direction, or whether there were explicit warnings not to do so.
According to news reports of the case, the track allows users to pay between $200 to $400 to ride luxury vehicles for several laps at up to 120 mph around a 1-mile, closed track with a professional driver seated beside.
Here, the driver had just turned 24, and the drive was a birthday gift from his wife. The 36-year-old professional driver sat next to him in the passenger seat. Although customers pay for the experience of pretending to be race car drivers, this case clearly shows the danger is in fact very real.
At some point, the driver lost control of the vehicle, which began spinning. Decedent tried to grab the wheel to steer it to safely, but it wrecked into the guardrail. He had been wearing both a helmet and shoulder belts. Authorities pronounced decedent dead at the scene.
Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol would later say the driver was not operating the vehicle recklessly or under the influence. He is cooperating with investigators and is not expected to face any criminal charges.
This is reportedly the third time in the last year that there has been a death at a speedway that grants customers permission to drive fast vehicles. Another occurred last fall in Indiana and another happened in New Jersey.
Also launching an investigation is the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, as this was an on-the-job fatality for the professional driver. His family, which includes a wife and 2-year-old daughter, may likely have workers’ compensation death benefits available to them. However, it’s advisable in these situations to explore all potential legal options with an experienced wrongful death lawyer before accepting any settlements.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Man killed when Lamborghini crashes at race car track, April 13, 2015, Associated Press, Florida Today
More Blog Entries:
Towe v. Sacagawea, Inc. – Motorcycle Accident Comparative Fault, April 8, 2015, Florida Car Accident Lawyer Blog