A Florida man who alleges he was hit in the head and shoulder while shielding his wife from flying debris after Austin Dillon's car flew into the Daytona International Speedway catch fence has filed a lawsuit against the track and NASCAR.
William Fulton claims in the lawsuit, filed Monday in Florida state court in Volusia County (Fla.), that he was sitting in Row 6 when the crash happened at the finish of the July 2015 Coke Zero 400.
Beyond stating in the complaint that he has not fully recovered from the injuries, Fulton did not list specific injuries in his complaint nor a specific amount being sought in damages.
According to the complaint, the track, its parent company International Speedway Corp. and NASCAR, were negligent, among other things, for "failing to properly remedy known dangerous conditions following continued, numerous injuries to spectators as a result of airborne race cars crashing into the catch fences" and for "failing to conduct a thorough engineering analysis of the catch fences and pre-race inspection of the fences." Spokesmen for NASCAR, which sanctions and operates the races, and ISC said they had no comment on the lawsuit. Fulton's attorney, David Beers, declined comment.
Dillon was not injured in the crash in which his car was turned and then launched into the air after being hit by another two cars. His car was ripped apart by the catch fence, and after it landed upside-down on the track, it was hit by Brad Keselowski.
When the Dillon crash occurred, the track said five fans were treated and one was hospitalized. No other lawsuits have been filed in Volusia County nor federal court over injuries from that crash, but the statute of limitations is four years.
NASCAR requires tracks to assume liability for fan injuries, and tracks are required to carry $50 million in liability insurance, according to the standard sanctioning agreement as reported by Dover International Speedway in public filings.
NASCAR has been looking into new ways to develop catch fences, including looking into what is being used in the Alps to prevent rock slides, NASCAR Senior Vice President Gene Stefanyshyn said in an aerodynamic and safety briefing update to reporters in June.
The issues include keeping visibility for the fans while also protecting them. The steel-and-mesh fences currently designed to keep cars on the track tend to rip the car apart while keeping it from going into the stands.
"We've got a project ongoing on that right now," Stefanyshyn said. "There's a lot of things to consider there. ... There's quite a bit of work going on."