My 13 year old drove a golf cart without permission and rolled it...

by Robert
(Cumming, Georgia)

My 13 year old son was told not to drive anyone's golf cart. However, a neighbor's 16 year old son allowed my disobedient son to drive his parents' gold cart. The 16 year old said he told my son to stay on the road and he didn't.

The golf cart rolled and slightly injured one of the 4 other children on the cart. The sixteen year old who gave permission was not on the cart but his younger brother was. Now the owners of the cart want me to pay all the bills. Am I liable? Is there anything I can do to defend against this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "My 13 year old drove a golf cart without permission and rolled it...":

Robert (Cumming, Georgia):

Like most other states, Georgia has what are referred to as Parental Responsibility Laws. Parental responsibility laws effectively hold parents responsible for the acts and omissions of their minor children when those acts or omissions result in injuries or property damage to a third party.

Georgia's Parental Responsibility Law can be found in the Georgia Code, Section 51-2-2 which reads, "Every person shall be liable for torts committed by his wife, his child, or his servant by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily."

The words "...whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily" are applicable in these circumstances.

Under the relatively antiquated Georgia law, and with the circumstances you present, you would likely be liable for the acts of your 13 year old child and the resulting property damage and medical bills arising out of the crash.

You might argue the 16 year old and his parents have some responsibility for their property damage and personal injuries. While that may be morally appropriate, under Georgia's present law, you will likely be fully responsible for the damages sustained by the injured child and for the repair or replacement of the golf cart.

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,

Judge Calisi

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