Recently, three women from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina were run over by an out-of-control pickup truck while they slept in their tent. They were among the 30,000 people attending the All Good Music Festival in Masontown, West Virginia. One of the women, 20-year old Nicole Miller, was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other two women were flown to a nearby hospital. Elizabeth Doran and Yen H. Tom are reported to be in good condition.
Authorities claim that the driver lost control of the truck as it rolled down a hill. It struck other cars and tents of people camping nearby before hitting the victims. So far, no information has been revealed on what made the driver lose control, whether it was through his own error or whether a third party interfered. The driver has not yet been charged.
Though one should not assume the driver acted irresponsibly, it would hardly be the first time someone lost control at an entertainment venue. The All Good Music Festival is a three-day event in its fifteenth year. Each year, the 30,000 attendees have the option of camping on Marvin’s Mountaintop, a 655-acre privately owned property. With so many people and so much open space, it is sadly inevitable that some will use it as an opportunity to act reckless even if everyone else behaves. People want to feel good, and that can involve drinking too much and doing things that you wouldn’t normally do. Such behavior too frequently leads to tragic results.
When someone you love is hurt in this type of situation, you would look at a few sources of fault: the one who actually caused the injury, the one who organized the event, and the owner of the property where the injury occurred. For the owner, there is the issue of premises liability. Owners have a legal responsibility to prevent visitors to their property from being injured. When the property is opened for use by the public, or when people enter to do business with the owner, these people are known as “invitees.” Owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees: a duty to warn about hazards on the land that the owner knows about or should know about. Usually, premises liability involves accidents like slipping and falling. With the death at All Good Music Festival, the question is whether a car veering out of control counts as a “known” or “should have known” hazard. An experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney can evaluate the situation and determine whether the owner of the property can be held liable. If there is a history of such accidents, that might be strong evidence for holding the owner responsible. If the organizers of the event are not the owners, they may be held liable as well depending upon how foreseeable the accident was and whether they did everything to prevent it. This is why many event organizers carry insurance.
Otherwise, you would file suit against the one who caused the injury. You would claim that he acted negligently, that he owed you a general duty to behave reasonably, and instead his careless behavior was the cause of your injury. An attorney can help you gather evidence to show that, for instance, a driver in a car accident had too high a blood-alcohol level.
We at the Wolfe Law Firm express our sympathies over what happened at the All Good Music Festival. Hopefully the owners and organizers will figure out what went wrong, and quick action will be taken so that a similar tragedy never happens again.