TOLEDO, Ohio — You have probably heard the song, "Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer", but have you thought about the repercussions Santa Claus would be facing if he really did run over a grandmother in his sleigh? Did the grandmother bear any responsibility?
WTOL 11's team spent part of Christmas Eve examining the song and speaking with experts in three different fields to determine criminal liability, civil liability, and potential insurance issues.
Examining the lyrics in depth begs the question: who is responsible for this terrible accident?
"She'd been drinkin' too much egg nog
And we'd begged her not to go
But she'd forgot her medication
And she stumbled out the door into the snow."
According to attorney Mark Davis, if Santa was the driver and he is at fault, he could be potentially charged with felonies not just for hitting grandma but fleeing the scene of an accident.
"Ohio has something called comparative negligence law. If the grandma was partly at fault, it would reduce the fee of the damages, if she was more than 50 percent at fault she couldn't recover," said Davis.
In civil court, it's a completely different ballgame according to Davis.
"If you listen to the song, grandma had too much eggnog, she forgot her medication and we begged her not to go," he said. "Under those circumstances, it's more than likely she would not recover in a case if she were hit by a sleigh or motor vehicle."
With grandma's family grieving, they may want to know about a potential insurance claim. Jessica Hernandez, a local All-State agent, weighs in on how insurance companies determine fault.
"If it happened in the state of Michigan, it's a no-fault state. Then grandma's no-fault benefit would apply, and the family would be paid out that way," Hernandez said. "Because you wouldn't have to prove that grandma was at fault. But in the state of Ohio there has to be a party at fault.
The song goes on to say:
"When we found her Christmas mornin'
At the scene of the attack...
She had hoof prints on her forehead
And incriminatin' Claus marks on her back."
Preston Schlachter, a NORAD Santa-tracking specialist, spoke on just how fast Santa is moving while he delivers gifts around the world.
"Over the years we've deduced that Santa travels at the speed of starlight - the only time we've noticed that he's actually slowed down is when he stops to deliver the gifts and when he goes into our air space, he actually slows down to fly with our jets," said Schlachter.
Meaning he could have slowed down enough to hit grandma, but it's unlikely.
So, for the sake of kids all over northwest Ohio, we'll guess officially that it was probably a wild deer that killed grandma.