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NASCAR track fatality triggers wrongful death suit

America loves NASCAR. Fans can be found in San Antonio and all across Texas. The roar of the engines, smell of rubber and exhaust and the thrill of the chase attract a lot of spectators.

While organizers might deny that it is a major part of the racing scene, it has to be acknowledged that one of the other attractions of the sport is the possibility that any given instant, with cars speeding along in extreme close quarters, there could be an accident. Serious and sometimes even fatal injuries do occur.

When injury-causing accidents happen on public streets, it's not unusual for civil claims and court action to follow. In some instances, it may be the only means by which victims of accidents can seek and obtain the recovery that may be required to compensate for their suffering.

It's rather unusual to hear about such actions being brought as a result of a NASCAR accident, but it is happening in one case. On the plaintiff's side are the parents of driver Kevin Ward Jr. Named as defendant is driver Tony Stewart. At issue is a track accident on Aug. 9, 2014, in which Ward was struck by Stewart and killed. It happened in upstate New York.

The Ward's suit accuses Stewart of wrongful death, reckless conduct and gross negligence. It seeks unspecified damages. By way of background, Ward had been involved in a collision during the race. Afterward, he got out of his vehicle and was walking on the track. That's when Stewart struck him.

The suit alleges Stewart deliberately targeted Ward, a claim Stewart denies. He says he didn't even see Ward before hitting him. He also notes that an official investigation found that Ward had smoked marijuana hours before the competition. He says Ward was responsible for his own death because of that impairment and because he chose to walk on the track.

Another factor that could influence the outcome of this case is that a grand jury in New York refused to indict Stewart of criminal charges in the matter. It called the incident "100 percent an accident."

What do you think? Does the suit have merit?

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