Comedian Kevin Hart was seriously injured in a car crash that happened on September 1, 2019. Hart was a passenger in his car, a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, when the driver lost control of the vehicle while driving on a California highway. The car rolled down an embankment, shattering the windshield and causing the roof to cave in. Both the driver and Mr. Hart sustained serious injuries. Hart was hospitalized for 10 days and required surgery for multiple spinal fractures. Following his hospitalization, he remained in an inpatient rehabilitation facility for physical therapy. The actor is now reportedly recuperating at home.
According to recent news reports, at least one lawsuit is expected to arise from the events surrounding the crash. Reports state that Mr. Hart's legal team is preparing a lawsuit against Speedkore, the company who custom-built his Barracuda. The vehicle was equipped with a modern 6.4L Hemi V8 and topped with a Whipple supercharger.
The driver of the car, as well as a third passenger (who sustained minor injuries), are reportedly also preparing for legal action. According to tabloid reports, the crux of their legal claims will be that the vehicle should have had specific safety equipment, including a roll cage, airbags, and five-point harnesses. Their claim will reportedly rest on the premise that the addition of these safety features would have prevented the injuries they sustained in the crash.
The car was designed by Mr. Hart and therefore the omission of what may have been necessary safety features may have been an intentional part of the requested custom design. Would this potentially shift the liability for the accident? Reports claim that it would not; the potential claimants will put forth that if Mr. Hart's design requests would have made the vehicle a potential risk to passengers, the company responsible for building it should have simply refused to do so.
As part of an investigation into building sports cars without potentially life-saving safety features, gossip website TMZ phoned various California auto shops. They asked the shops if, given the serious injuries sustained in the Hart crash, they would still agree to customize a vintage car without safety equipment. Eight out of ten shops contacted stated that they would.
This might not be a choice left up to the customer or the auto shop in the future. The California State Legislature is considering legislation which would make it illegal to operate a classic car without certain safety equipment. Under the proposed legislation, all cars, no matter how old, must have seatbelts or harnesses installed to be legal and roadworthy. As for the cause of the Hart crash, the California Highway Patrol is still investigating.