The Unnecessary and Tragic Consequences of Street Racing
While street racing is a practice that is both unlawful and extremely dangerous, it recently has increased in popularity in part because of recent glorification of this unsafe driving practice in movies like Fast and Furious.
Street racing and drag racing still occur despite the fact that it is both illegal and highly dangerous. Reckless street racing can take place in both rural and urban settings and can be an organized planned event or spontaneous poor decision.
Approximately a hundred people are killed annually in drag racing accidents and many others suffer serious injuries. Those that engage in unlawful street racing may face criminal liability for reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter in addition to civil liability. If an innocent bystander in a motor vehicle or a pedestrian suffers personal injury or wrongful death that is caused by street racing, the drivers who are racing may be liable for any injuries or fatalities.
Many times those injured or killed in auto collisions while street racing are occupants of the racing vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, passengers in a vehicle engaged in street racing may be barred from recovering financial compensation for their injuries by the doctrine of assumption of the risk. Georgia appellate courts have upheld the assumption of the risk defense in personal injury lawsuits involving street racing auto accidents where passengers in the racing vehicles are injured or killed.
The assumption of the risk defense can yield especially harsh results for passengers in vehicles engaged in street racing who suffer personal injury or wrongful death. While the comparative negligence defense provides that an accident victim’s recovery may be reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault, it is not a complete bar to recover unless the passenger injured in an auto accident is determined to be more than 50 percent at fault. It is unlikely that the passenger in a vehicle engaged in drag racing would be considered at fault enough to prevent recovery based on comparative negligence.
The affirmative defense of assumption of the risk completely bars recovery if an injury victim without coercion of circumstances, chooses a course of action with full knowledge of its danger and while exercising a free choice as to whether to engage in the act. Under Georgia law, the defense of assumption of the risk requires that three elements be established: (1) the injury victim had actual knowledge of the potential risks; (2) the plaintiff understood and appreciated the risks; and (3) the plaintiff voluntarily exposed himself to these known risks.
The case of Preston v. Sabetazm involved a motorcyclist who was involved in a fatal collision with a car when the car swerved into his lane while the two drivers were engaged in a street race. The parents of the deceased brought a lawsuit on behalf of their son for wrongful death, but the court held that any recovery for their son’s death was barred because their son assumed the risk of the car driver’s negligence when he engaged in the street race. Georgia appellate courts have also applied assumption of the risk to bar recovery for a passenger in a motor vehicle involved in a Georgia car accident while street racing.
If you or your loved one suffer serious injuries or your loved one suffers wrongful death in a drag racing accident or any other Georgia auto accident, the experienced Georgia auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates use our best efforts towards obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. Our Georgia car accident lawyers have been representing car collision victims throughout Georgia since 1984.
Our Atlanta auto accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.