Liability in go-kart accident?
We have a go-kart that our 15 year old was driving when she had an accident with her 14 year old friend who was with her (it's a 2 seat go-kart). They were both buckled in but both were hurt. The other girl appeared fine, she was sore after the accident but went to the movies, while my daughter was hurt and disoriented so I took her to the ER.
The next day the other girl went to the ER and they found that she has a fractured vertebrae. How do I handle this situation? Do I pay the doctor/hospital bills myself? Do I get an attorney? Turn the matter over to insurance (which insurance)? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Liability in go-kart accident?":
Renea (Adrian, MO):
To protect your interests consider notifying your homeowners insurance company, and if the go kart was covered under your car insurance, then notify them as well. Your insurance company will take over. They will investigate the matter and decide whether to pay any claim the girl's parents may file, or not.
You may not be entirely liable. Under the legal doctrine of "assumption of the risk" your liability may be diminished somewhat. Unlike a passenger in a car who has a right to know they will be safe, agreeing to ride in a go kart takes on a different understanding of the notion of presumed assumption of risk.
Your daughter's friend's parents must have realized permitting their daughter to ride in a vehicle driven by a fifteen year old child which sits only inches above the ground, lacking normal protection afforded by passenger cars, was dangerous. Yet, they still permitted her to ride.
In the event you are sued, your insurance company will provide an attorney at no cost to you (other than the premiums you normally pay). You will have protection up to the limits of your policy.
At this point it's best not to make any statement to the parents or their representative, or sign any documents. Wait until you've spoken with your insurance company. In the event you failed to insure the go kart, or your daughter wasn't covered, you will need the services of a private defense attorney. Hopefully that won't be necessary.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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