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NASCAR fans to sue? Maybe not

NASCAR fans injured at Saturday's race may sue, but experts say they'd have a hard time collecting damages.

By Kyle HightowerAssociated Press / February 26, 2013

Kyle Larson's flaming car hit the safety fence at the conclusion of the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race Saturday, Feb. 23, sending car parts and other debris flying into the stands and injuring spectators. Some of the injured NASCAR fans are considering suing, their lawyer says.

Chris O'Meara / AP

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ORLANDO, Fla.

The attorney for three NASCAR fans injured last weekend during a race the day before the Daytona 500 says his clients may sue, but he hopes to reach a settlement with NASCAR.  Some experts say they could face tough obstacles in winning damages.

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Matt Morgan, the Orlando-based lawyer for the fans, said at a news conference Tuesday that any suit would focus on the safety fence used along the track at Daytona International Speedway.

More than 30 people were injured last Saturday after a horrific wreck in a second-tier NASCAR series race sent chunks of debris, including a heavy tire, into the stands. Morgan declined to provide the identities of his clients, but said two of them were seated directly in front of the crash and sustained injuries ranging from a fractured fibula to abdominal swelling. All have been released from the hospital.

Some experts say there could be grounds for a lawsuit, and that courts have looked past liability waivers written on the backs of sporting event tickets. Others maintain the ticket is a legal contract that could be hard to overcome in court.

"Ultimately, I believe it would be gross negligence," Morgan said. "We all know that when you go to a race you assume a certain amount of risk. But what people don't assume is that a race car will come flying into the stands... That's why they make the fences."

Asked to comment on the fans' retention of a law firm, NASCAR spokesman David Higdon wrote in a statement, "We are unaware of any lawsuits filed."

Daytona International Speedway is owned by International Speedway Corp., a NASCAR sister company. Spokesman Andrew Booth said, "As per company policy, we do not comment on pending litigation."

Donnalynn Darling, a New York-based attorney who has been practicing personal injury law for 30 years, said there is a theory that a spectator who buys tickets to a sporting event assumes the risk of objects coming out of the field of play, such as a foul ball at a baseball game.

But she said there is also a foreseeable risk question that promoters of events also accept.

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