Golf carts are almost as prevalent as cars in Florida. You might see them on the golf course, apartment complexes, neighborhoods, theme parks, and public streets. Golf carts seem harmless, but if an accident happens, the results can be serious for the involved parties. This is especially true if a car hits a golf cart.
Golf Cart Accident Statistics
Every year in the U.S., around 13,000 golf-cart-related accidents require emergency medical intervention. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that the number is rising, and almost half of those accidents involve children under 16.
Children and older adults are at the highest risk for golf cart accident injuries. According to a 2018 American Journal of Emergency Medicine study, golf cart injuries are an increasing source of injury and death in the U.S. The study observed golf-cart-related injuries at a pediatric trauma center. The study also found that children as young as nine are driving golf carts. They are not using seatbelts and therefore face a higher risk of overturning the cart. Note, however, that the age limit for operating a golf cart on public roads in Florida is 14 years old.
The 2018 study also cited 40 crashes and over $1 million in hospital charges between 2008 and 2016. The average hospital stay for golf-cart-related injuries was 1.5 days, with the median cost for medical expenses being $20,489. The most common injuries were head and neck injuries.
Can I Sue for Golf Cart Injuries in Florida?
Yes. Florida golf cart injury victims can pursue a civil (personal injury claim) claim for compensation. However, sometimes, it won’t be necessary to file a lawsuit. Instead, you can file an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurance and negotiate a settlement.
If you are injured after a golf cart accident, you should enlist the help of an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.
Establishing Liability in a Florida Golf Cart Accident
All drivers in Florida are responsible for practicing reasonable care and avoiding reckless driving behavior. If a driver is speeding, texting, or driving drunk, they are engaging in negligent behaviors. Consequently, that increases their risk of causing a golf cart accident.
Likewise, golf cart drivers have the same duty of care as all other vehicle operators. Unfortunately, golf cart occupants are usually left with more severe injuries after a collision. For example, if a car rear-ends a golf cart, the impact could eject passengers from the cart. Or if a car runs a golf cart off the road, the cart would roll over or crash. In any scenario, the golf cart passengers are at greater risk for severe injury than the car occupants.
You will need to prove at least one of the following for a golf cart injury case:
- The golf cart driver’s negligence caused you or your passengers injuries.
- The golf cart owner allowed someone unqualified to operate their golf cart (negligent entrustment)
- The golf cart owner allowed someone else to operate their vehicle, and their negligence caused the accident (vicarious liability)
- Another driver was negligent and hit the golf cart, causing an accident.
- The golf cart had a defective design or part (product liability)
- The golf cart was not correctly maintained and consequently caused an accident (negligence)
- The owner of the property or golf course failed to tend to a dangerous condition on the property (premises liability)
By consulting an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer, you can accurately determine who is legally responsible for your injuries and what kind of case you have.
Do Insurance Policies Cover Golf Cart Accidents in Florida?
It depends on the circumstances of your case. Homeowners or renters insurance can pay the claim if the policyholder is found negligent. That would usually only apply if:
- the golf cart driver was found negligent and liable for causing the accident
- The golf cart driver does not own the golf cart
Many insurers exclude golf carts from coverage. Therefore, it’s essential to read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully. You might be able to use first-party coverage like health insurance or Medicare, depending on how the accident happened.
A golf cart owner could be found vicariously liable if they give someone permission to operate their golf cart.
The Role of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in a Florida Golf Cart Accident Lawsuit
Florida law requires car and truck drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for injury coverage. PIP will cover damages regardless of who is at fault for the accident. In addition, drivers must also carry a minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability coverage. Property Damage Liability covers repair and replacement costs.
Golf cart owners in Florida are not legally required to register or insure them. Even though they are low-speed vehicles, they still account for serious injuries when involved in accidents. As such, the limited regulation on golf carts doesn’t offer much protection to golf cart operators.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Golf Cart Accidents?
While golf carts are considered a relaxed and convenient means of travel. As a result, many drivers often engage in laid-back or distracted driving behaviors while operating a golf cart. Whether it’s the golf cart driver or another vehicle operator at fault, the most common causes of accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Making sharp turns
- Overloaded carts
- Improperly loaded carts (too much weight on one side or in the front/back)
- Mechanical defects
What Are the Most Common Injuries From Florida Golf Cart Accidents?
Golf cart operators often mistakenly believe that since they are slow-speed vehicles, accidents can’t happen. But any form of a motorized vehicle has the potential to cause serious injuries. The design of a golf cart (open air, no roof, and lightweight) make golf cart occupants vulnerable to severe injuries. If they get into a collision, there’s no protective barrier to stop them from flying out of the cart. Some of the most common golf cart injuries are:
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Shoulder injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Knee injury
- Lacerations, cuts, and bruises
Golf Carts Are Considered Dangerous Instruments in Florida
Under Florida Statute F.S. 320.01(22), golf carts are defined as motor vehicles designed and manufactured on a golf course for sporting and recreational purposes. They should not exceed the speed of 20 mph.
They are technically only allowed to operate on certain public roads that expressly designate golf car use and have a posted speed limit of 30 mph or lower. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not require golf cart operators to have a special license. Furthermore, the age limit for driving a golf cart in Florida is only 14.
The no license and lenient age policy for golf carts in Florida makes way for dangerous golf-cart accidents. Younger people have less driving experience and do not need to pass any course or screening to demonstrate competency before operating a golf cart. They are also more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors that can lead to accidents.
Due to their potential dangers, golf carts are considered “dangerous instruments” in legal terms. This term can also apply to cars in certain situations. The “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” states that the owner of any inherently dangerous tool is ultimately responsible for any injuries or damages caused by the tool. This legal concept is also known as “vicarious liability”. So, even if the owner of the golf cart was not driving it, they could be found legally responsible for injuries if they gave the operator permission to drive the dangerous instrument.
The situation can become more complicated if we discuss a rental golf cart. In that case, the owner might not be inherently liable for operator negligence, but they might be responsible for ensuring the golf cart is adequately maintained and safe to use. As you can see, determining liability in a golf car accident can be tricky. Your best bet is to seek the professional opinion of an experienced personal injury lawyer to review your case and determine liability.
Distracted Driving or Negligence Could Mean the Other Driver is Liable in a Golf Car Lawsuit
If another driver hits a golf cart due to careless or distracted driving, they can be held liable for the accident. Distracted driving is disturbingly common and takes many forms. Whether the other driver is texting, changing the song, eating, or applying make-up – anything that prevents them from focusing entirely on the road is considered distracted driving.
Golf cart passengers are at increased risk for debilitating or catastrophic injuries if they are struck by another vehicle. Nighttime is especially dangerous. This is because golf carts may not have lights and thus be less visible to other cars. The results could be deadly if a distracted or drunk driver hits a golf cart at night. The weight discrepancy between a car and a golf cart also means the impact of a crash will be more dangerous for the golf cart passengers.
Negligent Golf Cart Drivers Can Also Be Liable for Damages in an Accident
Golf car drivers can be found negligent too. Distracted driving is not limited to people operating trucks and cars. Sometimes, golf cart drivers are distracted or intoxicated and can cause accidents. In fact, many people mistakenly believe that since golf carts are low-speed vehicles, it’s ok to drink and drive a golf cart. However, the dangers are just as serious, if not more, for those in golf carts.
Golf car drivers actually need to be more aware of the inherent risks that a golf cart has. That could mean exerting more caution to prevent accidents or serious injuries. For example, when a golf cart driver drinks or is otherwise distracted while driving, they can be liable. If you were driving a car while a golf cart crashed into you, you might be eligible to collect reimbursement for your damages. Examples of damages you can claim after a golf cart accident include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me in a Florida Golf Cart Accident Lawsuit?
If you or a loved one were injured in a golf car accident, you might suffer from a permanent injury. On top of physical injuries, it’s common to struggle with pain and suffer from accident trauma. To make matters even worse, injury victims might have steep medical bills.
Whether you were hit by a car while driving a golf cart or you were hit by a golf cart while driving your car, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our legal team is well-versed in establishing negligence and liability. We can help build a case in your favor to show the other party’s negligence caused your injuries. We do so by conducting a thorough investigation and collecting strong evidence. Then, if we need to go to trial, we will have what it takes to convince a jury of the damages you are entitled to seek.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one were injured in a golf cart accident, it’s better to seek professional legal advice rather than guess your way through it. We understand how disruptive an unexpected accident can be in your life because we’ve been in your shoes. That’s why our dedicated legal team will treat you with the utmost respect and work tirelessly to win your case. Insurance companies and the local courts know us and take us seriously.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation or call (727) 381-2300 for legal help you can trust.