Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pennsylvania harness racer claims Harrah's ignored track defect

Allegheny County property owners owe visitors a duty of care. A person injured on someone else's property -- like a home, workplace, rental property or store -- may be eligible for compensation through a premises liability claim. Property owners who do not protect visitors from harm may be held accountable for negligence.

A harness racing driver suffered disabling injuries during a race at Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in November. The 31-year-old driver was trampled by racehorses after being thrown from his sulky, the cart in which harness racers sit. A lawsuit claims the driver's injuries were caused by dangerous conditions on Harrah's racetrack.

The legal claim states the horse ahead of the driver tripped on an uneven surface. The stumble allegedly made an accident unavoidable. The harness racing driver had injuries to his skull and brain that required multiple surgeries and left him unable to care for himself.

Harrah's, Caesars Entertainment Operating Corporation and Caesars Entertainment Corp. were named as defendants. The lawsuit alleges the track owner knew about the Chester track hazard for at least two years, but did not correct it.

The accident victim requested punitive damages along with compensatory damages, which would cover the driver's actual losses. Punitive damages are awarded when a civil court determines a defendant's behavior is so glaringly bad that additional compensation is required.

The accident prompted the State Harness Racing Commission to ask Harrah's for further details about the track. When the track owner failed to comply with the request, the commission suspended Harrah's Philadelphia racing schedule. The harness racing season, which was due to begin in mid-March, was pushed back to the end of the month.

The complexity of premises liability laws makes it difficult for injured parties to determine whether they have a valid claim. An attorney can review your case for eligibility and move the complaint toward a rightful settlement or damages.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, "Harrah's Philadelphia sued by injured racer over 'unsafe track'" John George, Mar. 17, 2014

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