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Lawyer for injured Daytona Speedway fans sees settlement

Rescue workers respond next to a hole in the catch fence following a last-lap incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 ra
Rescue workers respond next to a hole in the catch fence following a last-lap incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 ra

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Some of the NASCAR fans hurt by flying debris from a 10-car crash at the Daytona International Speedway have retained a lawyer, who said on Wednesday he expects their claims to be settled out of court.

Based on NASCAR history, Matt Morgan of the Orlando personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan, said "a lot of times they resolve these claims without having to go through litigation. So hopefully we can come to an amicable resolution on the value of these claims and move on."

Morgan represents three of the several dozen people injured on Saturday after a wreck on the last lap of the Nationwide Series race sent a tire and debris over and through a safety fence intended to protect fans in the stands.

More than 30 spectators were injured, including at least 19 who required hospital treatment.

NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said that, while the racing group does not discuss pending or potential litigation, "we'll likely provide an update on our next steps at our next race, which is this weekend in Phoenix."

The Nationwide race took place the day before Sunday's prestigious Daytona 500. Rookie driver Kyle Larson's car went airborne and sailed into the fence in the frightening crash, although he was able to climb out of the wreckage afterward.

Crews worked through the night to repair the fence so the Daytona 500 race could go on as planned. The speedway is owned by International Speedway Corporation

Morgan said one of his clients suffered a fractured leg and another an abdominal injury.

He said he was unsure at this time what entity he would sue. A waiver on the back of the race tickets says that fans assume all risks, a disclaimer Morgan said was typical for sporting events and active locales such as ski resorts.

"Arguments can go both ways," as to whether the waiver absolves the company of all liability, Morgan said.

He said he had not yet determined whether courts had ruled on that issue.

"I don't believe, in my limited research, that NASCAR has many - if any - pending lawsuits against them right now," Morgan said.

He said he will focus attention on engineering studies on the safety fence at the Talladega Superspeedway after flying debris injured fans after a similar crash in 2009.

(This story has been corrected to remove reference to Michael Annett, who was injured in an unrelated crash)

(Editing by Jane Sutton)

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