A tragic accident at the storied Harvard-Yale football game this year underscores issues of personal injury and liability law. One woman died and two more were injured at the Yale Bowl when a truck carrying beer suddenly accelerated into the crowd. The U-Haul truck was driven by a Yale junior, who passed a field sobriety test after the accident. The truck was impounded for analysis.
Although the student driver was not legally drunk, and his fraternity brothers said he had not been drinking, issues of alcohol and liability are perennial nightmares for administrators at both universities. Harvard’s tailgating rules tend to be more strict. For example, no kegs are allowed at tailgating parties, and trucks such as the U-Haul are not permitted. The Yale required wristbands for the first time this year, limiting access to the field where tailgating takes place.
Yale had considered banning U-Hauls because of safety concerns, but students objected and the University relented. Yale will review its tailgating policies. Additionally, it will need to answer questions such as its role in creating the conditions that allowed the accident to happen. Others involved in the accident will need to consider whether the truck was safe to operate and whether the driver was capable of driving the truck. There is clearly plenty of blame to go around.
Source: New York Times, “Fatal Accident at Yale Bowl Highlights Tailgating Debate“, by Thomas Kaplan, Nov. 20, 2011.