Certain sports are much more dangerous than others, and athletes who compete in these types of events are aware that they could be hurt in the process. Mixed martial arts is a good example of this. Professional fighting comes with an increased risk of injury, and you’ll never hear of a MMA fighter suing another fighter for injuries sustained during a fight.
Does this analogy apply to racing sports? What are the legal repercussions, if any, in causing another racer to crash?
How Do Courts Treat Sports-Related Accidents?
Courts have long determined that participants in a sport assume the risks that are inherent to the sport they participate in. Thus, there are greater limits imposed on the liability of the person who causes harm to another participant.
However, this limit only applies under normal circumstances. For example, if someone injured your leg while you were simply walking down the street, you have every right to sue that person for the injury you sustained. However, if this occurs during an MMA fight, the fighter that injured you would most likely be protected from liability.
The same holds true for race car driving. While car accidents almost always end in a lawsuit, car crashes during a racing competition are exempted from liability.
Are Racers Free to Cause Accidents Without Fear of Legal Repercussions?
Courts draw the line when an accident happens outside the normal rules and customs of the sport.
If a race car driver is injured because his car got nudged from behind, the racer that caused the accident will not be held liable for causing injury. In fact, motorsports have rules that account for contact between cars. There is no need to penalize a racer further outside of the sport, especially since the rules of the sport already have corresponding penalties, and because these types of accidents are expected.
However, when an injury is caused by an action that is outside of racing norms and it is outside of racing rules, the injured party can sue.
A good example of this is when a motorcycle racer, Romano Fenati, rode next to a rival and pulled on the latter’s brake paddle, thus causing the racer to temporarily lose control. This was while they were riding at 140mph, speeds that could have easily caused a serious injury to the rival had he crashed. Fortunately, the racer regained control and continued to ride on.
Were circumstances different and the crash caused injuries, then Romano Fenati would have been liable for causing the accident as well as the injuries sustained in the accident.
Even when the law has limits of imputing liability in a sporting event, you’re still going to want to consult car accident lawyers like the ones at Tario & Associates to help you investigate further into the circumstances of your racing accident, and to help you secure full and fair compensation when applicable.