What is Hill Jumping?
Hill jumping involves driving a car at a high rate of speed in an attempt to get it to go airborne after leaving the hill’s crest.
The uninitiated may be more familiar with snowboarders and skiers “hill jumping.” Also known as “yumping,” (probably a mispronunciation of the word “jump"), its origin may be in car rallying.
The rallying culture, a form of motor competition on public or private roads, has been going on as long as there have been cars. As far back as January 1907, the first Monte Carlo Rally was held.
Today, exhibitions involve “Big Cars” that go airborne in arenas.
The difference is that rally cars have upgraded tires, rims, and suspension that allow them to more safely survive a hard landing.
Teens Hill Jumping
Today, hill jumping involving teenagers in standard cars, has become a spectator sport at some popular vantage points in Virginia, and elsewhere around the country.
Attorney Doug Landau (IB Partner) recently represented a mother and her son who were hit in their SUV by a hill jumping car. They received minor injuries. He provides the video on his Injury Board Blog.
Landau says students from Oakton, Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria, and Oak Hill, Virginia have been injured and nearly killed by hill jumping.
In this footage, taken by a 14-year-old in the back seat with a cell phone, the driver had a license for less than 60 days. The girl was ejected through the sun roof and almost died from her injuries. Then the vehicle flipped and landed in the mud. Fortunately, the soft mud landing may have kept the other kids in the car from being injured further.
In the third video on the Landau blog, a girl can be heard screaming, "Oh my God, Oh my God," after the car lands.
Some hills even have gauge marks from hill jumping, and authorities are aware of the desirable hills for jumping, says Landau.
Doug Landau tells IB News, “The second instance it hit me personally. It was my daughter’s best friend who went to Thomas Jefferson High School, the best in the country for science and math. So these are not stupid kids.”
The teens injured in the crash were on their way to a crew practice near Occaquan, Virginia. They suffered multiple injuries including brain injury and facial lacerations.
Landau’s client is a mother and child who were struck by these kids.
“They were driving down a curvy, rolling road at night without and any warning or honking, flashing of lights, this car is airborne and at them. It’s every mother’s nightmare. Luckily their injuries were not catastrophic. Luckily, nobody was killed.”
But everyone in the car was hurt and hospitalized. The girl was badly injured.
The recordings from hill jumping eventually end up on YouTube and Facebook to show how much air they caught, says Landau.
“Go huge or go home,” is the current mantra.
Hill Jumping Litigation
Landau says there was insufficient insurance to cover the injuries and the 16-year-old driver was charged with reckless driving, a traffic infraction that caused him to lose his license.
In this case, it was the first offense.
The complaint against the driver accused him of negligence, and gross negligence that borders on aggravated liability. The case settled.
“The insurance company realized that they did not have a leg to stand on in light of the fact that there was a recordating of what they were doing.”
Other lawsuits were filed by teens in the car against the driver’s parent’s insurance company. They also made underinsured motorist claims.
Landau says he’s heard from people in different states who had also heard of hill jumping incidents. They are difficult to investigate because there is no physical evidence or skid marks before the car is airborne.
He suggests parents have a conversation.
“If you have a kid driving to a sports function, lay down the law pretty hard. If it had been a second offense, the judge would have ordered some time to be served.
“For parents it’s very, very scary.” #.