Florida has more than 1,200 golf courses, and we are lucky to live where the courses are world-renowned for their beautiful landscaping and accessibility. This “golfing way of life” has spread to residential communities, college campuses and retirement communities. Golf carts are becoming a “go-to” form of transportation. Unfortunately, greater use of golf carts off the golf course means more danger. Golf carts do not have safety features, like signal lights, mirrors, airbags, and sometimes even no seat belts, passengers are susceptible to sustaining serious injuries if involved in accidents.
The most common types of golf cart accidents include single-cart crashes, collisions with automobiles, striking a pedestrian and rollovers.
Although golf carts are typically not designed to travel faster than 20 miles per hour, they can still inflict a significant amount of damage in collisions and rollovers. Metal shards and vehicle pieces pose a serious danger to victims. There is also a considerable risk of being ejected and injured.
The most common causes of injury in golf cart accidents include distracted driving, driving under the influence, and hazardous conditions, such as making sharp turns, sudden reversals, overcrowding, and uneven or wet pavement.
Golf Cart Injuries on the Rise
Although golf carts are not as large or heavy as most other vehicles and do not travel at the same high speeds, collisions and rollovers can still cause serious injuries and, in some cases, death. Some of the most typical injuries include fractures and broken bones, face and neck injuries, injury to shoulders and knees, traumatic brain injuries and concussions, spinal damage, and in worst-case scenarios, injuries that can cause what the law calls “wrongful death.”
These types of injuries range in severity, and the cost of treatments and rehabilitation services can quickly add up, putting severe financial, physical, and emotional stress on victims and their families.
Investigating the Accident & Determining Liability
Just like any other accident, it’s important to first take anyone to the hospital who needs immediate medical attention. Once it’s determined that everyone is safe, call the police and take photos of the scene, the people’s injuries, the golf cart(s) involved, any other objects that may have been part of the accident. Also get contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the crash. Determining fault requires an in-depth investigation of the accident, including a professional inspection of the vehicles involved, an examination of the scene and witness interviews. This is when the police and your lawyer get to work.
In Florida, golf carts are considered “dangerous instrumentalities,” so golf cart owners who negligently entrust their vehicle to another driver can be held liable for damages. Other liable parties can include the manufacturer of the golf cart’s parts, negligent drivers themselves, golf cart rental facility owners/managers, and parents of children who may be involved.
The dangers posed by golf carts are real, and sadly, a high percentage of golf cart accidents involve children. Please be cautious and remember that golf carts can be just as dangerous as cars. Take these steps to increase your safety in a golf cart:
- Break slowly, especially when driving downhill;
- Avoiding sharp turns;
- Consider weather conditions and the local terrain
- Maintain a reasonable speed below 15 miles per hour;
- Use seat belts when they are available and sit back securely in the seats;
- Keep feet and arms inside the golf cart at all times;
- Discourage children under the age of 16 from driving without supervision.