Recently, a 14-year-old girl passed away after a go-kart accident outside the Texas Motor Speedway, where she was participating in a go-kart race. The race was sponsored by the Sports Car Club of America. The girl’s go-kart kept going after she crossed the finish line and crashed through a low fence. Her helmet fell off when she crashed. Although she was airlifted to a hospital, she was pronounced dead afterward. It is not known whether the girl lost control because she suffered some sort of medical condition, or if the go-kart experienced a mechanical failure.
If the cause of an accident causing injury or death to a minor is mechanical failure, it may be appropriate to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In Texas, a plaintiff bringing a product liability suit must prove the product was defective, the product reached the plaintiff without a substantial change in its condition, the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries and resulting damages.
When a product liability suit is brought, your attorney will need to retain experts to prove whether there was a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect and to testify about whether there was a safer alternative design. When there is a manufacturing defect claim, the plaintiff’s expert must be able to testify that the product deviated from its planned specifications. When there is a marketing defect, the plaintiff will have to show that the product lacked an adequate warning.
What if you did not buy a go-kart or other recreational vehicle with a product defect? In some cases, it may be appropriate to sue the entity responsible for your child’s use of a defective vehicle for negligence. However, cases involving go-karts or other potentially dangerous recreational activities often include the issue of a liability waiver.
Individuals are often asked to sign a liability waiver before taking part in an activity, such as renting go-karts for a race. The waiver is likely to state that the creator of the document is released from any liability in case of injury. Whether or not a liability waiver is enforced depends on a number of factors.
If your child was injured or killed after participating in a potentially dangerous activity and a waiver was signed, you should be aware that people under 18 cannot legally be party to a contract. Minors have until two years after their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas. However, this issue may be complicated in the case of a wrongful death suit brought by parents who have signed a liability waiver.
In general, liability waivers don’t stop someone from filing a lawsuit for damages. Whether or not the waiver is enforced in the case of a parent suing after signing a waiver depends partly on the language of the waiver. The language must be plain and easily readable by the person signing it. When a waiver’s language is purposely ambiguous or difficult to read because it includes very small text, the courts may find it void and unenforceable.
When you sign a liability waiver, the defendants are not automatically excluded from liability. For example, those that operate go-kart rentals should still be taking care to make sure their go-karts are operating properly and are adequately maintained within reason so that those who rent them are not placed at high risk of injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to an injury in a go-kart or other recreational vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation, including medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. The experienced San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Carabin Shaw may be able to help. Call our office for more information at 1-800-862-1260.