The coastal city of Port Aransas, Texas, is renowned for its sandy beaches and relaxed atmosphere. One popular pastime for residents and tourists is renting golf carts to explore the city and drive on the beaches. However, a recent incident serves as a reminder that such activities can lead to serious accidents.
Barbara Vipond and her friend Jill Cones Riedel were visiting Port Aransas and enjoying the beach when their peaceful day was disrupted. They were struck from behind by a golf cart, driven by an unlicensed 13-year-old girl. Riedel endured the brunt of the impact, suffering severe injuries that required immediate medical attention. Both women were transferred to the Corpus Christi Medical Center Bay Area, where they received treatment for their injuries.
This unfortunate incident is not an isolated event. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reveals that between 2007 and 2017, an estimated 156,040 people received emergency room treatment for golf cart-related injuries. A more recent study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that golf cart-related injuries have increased to over 6,500 annually in the past few years, with over half of these injuries occurring in children aged 12 and younger.
From a legal perspective, it’s important to understand how liability could potentially be apportioned in such a scenario. The specific intent and responsibility of the driver, parental supervision, and the role of any rental company all factor into a determination of liability and apportionment of fault.
A driver can be held responsible for the accident due to negligence in operating a golf cart. While the 13-year-old may not have intended to harm anyone, her decision to drive without a license could be viewed as a reckless act, making her liable for any injuries caused. Ultimately, a jury would have to decide whether or not she acted as a reasonably prudent golf cart driver on the date of the incident.
Parents can also be held liable for their minor children’s actions under the principle of “vicarious liability.” If it is proven that the parents were negligent in allowing their underage child to drive the golf cart, they could potentially face civil liability.
Rental Company Liability
The role of the rental company also comes into play. In Texas, companies are required by law to enforce rules regarding proof of valid license and insurance before renting out golf carts. However, once the golf cart is rented, the company’s control over how it’s used becomes limited. Other issues can also come into play. Was there a malfunction on the golf cart? Was it properly inspected and maintained by the rental company?
In conclusion, the increase in golf cart-related injuries, particularly among children and adolescents, is a worrying trend. As golf carts become more popular for recreational use, it is crucial to understand the legal implications of golf cart accidents. There is a pressing need to reassess existing regulations and to ensure the safety of all users, particularly the most vulnerable—children and older adults. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with golf cart usage and the responsibility of all parties—drivers, parents, and rental companies—in ensuring safe and responsible use.
Our lawyers have represented numerous people who suffered severe injury because of the negligence of another party. Our experienced attorneys have previously been involved in numerous lawsuits involving vehicular accidents, including those involving golf carts. There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.