As accident lawyers, we’ve seen accidents of all kinds. In late July, however, we finally ran into one that we have never seen before: a car was mobbed by a real-life zombie swarm.
The zombies in question were not reanimated bodies, but festival-goers involved with San Diego’s Comic-Con, a major comic book and sci-fi convention that happens every year. Comic-Con is known for its outlandish costumes and extremely devoted fans, both of which combined in a Zombie Walk that was meant to be good, geeky fun.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way. As droves of people dressed as zombies walked near the San Diego Convention Center, they temporarily blocked traffic. A car pulled up to the intersection, waiting for the revelers to pass. Inside the car was a family with two kids—all of whom are reportedly deaf.
What happened next is the subject of some debate. Allegedly, the zombies decided to swarm the car, pounding on the doors and windows. One individual sat on the hood of the car, though some witnesses say the person was not part of the Zombie Walk. It’s unclear whether the driver honked or did anything to provoke the zombies, although assaulting a car isn’t an appropriate response in the world of the living.
Eventually, the driver’s children were so scared that the driver felt he had to escape. He began honking and slowly nosing his vehicle through the crowd—a dangerous decision. The crowd beat his car so hard that the windshield cracked. Witnesses disagree whether this happened before he drove into the crowd or only after he made that fateful decision.
One way or another, the inevitable came to pass: he hit a 64-year-old woman who was not part of the zombie party. She was struck by the side of his car and then fell underneath. She survived, but is badly injured.
The event raises some questions legally. Who’s at fault for the woman’s injuries? The answer to that question hinges on who was the aggressor in the zombie-versus-driver exchange.
If the driver was impatient and the zombies only mobbed the car after he tried to drive through them, then he’s clearly at fault for all injuries. But if the zombies attacked the car unprovoked, then the family had good reason to believe they were in danger, especially once the windshield cracked. In that case, they were justified in trying to escape—but driving into a crowd is a reckless way of doing so. A better choice would have been to back up or U-turn into the other lane and leave.
In that case, the injured woman could still have a claim against the driver, but he in turn might have one against the Zombie Walk.
One thing is clear about the case: it’s been bad press for zombies worldwide. Another San Diego Zombie Walk scheduled for October has already been canceled. Others may need to increase their security presence.