CAN YOU AFFORD TO PAY A $50 MILLION JUDGMENT WHEN YOUR MINOR CHILD HAS AN ACCIDENT WHILE DRIVING A GOLF CART?
By Charles M. Tatelbaum, RVCA Legal Counsel
Our Rio Vista Civic Association publications and communications have continuously reminded our neighbors as to the illegality of having a minor or unlicensed child drive a golf cart on the streets of our community.
To highlight the consequences of allowing such an activity, I call your attention to a judgment that was recently entered in the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County against a family in the amount of $50 million as a result of injuries sustained by a passenger in a golf cart when an unlicensed driver ran a stop sign and collided with another vehicle. This occurred at a family event when an unlicensed minor was given permission by his parents to take his cousins on a ride in the family's golf cart around the community. The impact from the accident created permanent and severe brain and body damage to the cousin that was ejected from the golf cart, and this led to the $50 million judgment imposed upon the parents of the driver of the golf cart.
Florida has adopted what is known as the dangerous instrumentality doctrine which imposes vicarious liability upon the owner of a motor vehicle who voluntarily entrusts it to an individual whose negligent operation caused damage to another. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a golf cart can be considered a motor vehicle.
Additionally, it is almost impossible to have insurance coverage for such an accident and damages since virtually all insurance policies exclude coverage when a motor vehicle is being operated by an unlicensed driver.
For the safety of everyone within our community, the Rio Vista Civic Association Board urges all of our residents and neighbors to curtail and eliminate the driving of golf carts by minors within our community.