What would happen if your 12 year old child accidentally kills another child while driving a golf cart in the neighborhood?

I’m a legal resident in TX and originally from Colombia (all family members are). My son’s best friend and his family allow the kids to freely drive their golf carts, 4 wheelers, etc. either in our neighborhood or his weekend river property. I struggle to make them understand that a 12 year old should not be driving either one, and much less in the neighborhood; or being a passenger on one if an adult is not the driver and have security devices properly used for the ride.

Asked on September 18, 2011 under Personal Injury, Texas

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You have touched upon pretty much something we lawyers must deal with in the theoretical (law school exams and bar examinations) but also for those who handle criminal law and minors, in the real world. If a 12 year old boy (who can appreciate the potential consequences of his actions) causes an accident and kills either a child or adult while driving a motorized vehicle, then there are and would be criminal consequences and civil consequences for the child and his parents. If the child is legally allowed to drive such a golf cart, the issue turns to whether he was doing so negligently and whether his actions could amount to manslaughter or murder in the second degree, again all based on the facts known to the parties and court. If this was purely an accident (not caused by the child) there would be no issue. As to the civil penalty component, even if the criminal court judge does not award restitution, the family could sue the child and his parents in a wrongful death claim for damages. To get the point home, contact your state bar and local bar associations that can point you to possible copies of case law and brochures and maybe arrange for an attorney to come by to teach the kids and parents what consequences could happen.


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