Driving or riding in a golf cart is fun. Golf carts bring all the fun of driving a car without any of the rules of the road. While this combination usually makes for a carefree day on the links or a quick cruise through a retirement community, golf cart accidents can actually lead to serious injury. Golf carts were meant for just that: golf. However, their expanded use has led to an increase in injuries across the United States.
What Makes Golf Carts Unsafe?
A golf cart is essentially a tiny car with all of the safety features removed. Think about it: golf carts lack doors, sides, bumpers, airbags, and seatbelts, and usually have a plastic body. Considering that they are commonly driven at high speeds across rough terrain, it is surprising that there is absolutely no license requirement for driving one. Plus, that does not even take into account the normal maintenance required to ensure that all components like brakes or even the seats are functioning. It does not help that alcohol and golf often go hand in hand, meaning many drivers might be under the influence of alcohol. At the end of the day, there is very little in the way of regulation when it comes to golf carts, which makes it easy for the negligence of others to cause injury.
Types of Golf Cart Lawsuits
There are many types of golf cart lawsuits. Let’s drill down on the ten most common lawyers see:
- Driver Negligence: Accidents often occur due to reckless or negligent driving, such as speeding, driving under the influence, or not adhering to safety protocols.
- Poor Maintenance: Claims may arise from the improper maintenance of golf carts, which can lead to mechanical failures.
- Design or Manufacturing Flaws: In some cases, accidents are caused by inherent flaws in the design or manufacturing of the golf cart.
- Road or Path Conditions: The condition of the paths or areas where golf carts are driven can also lead to accidents, especially if they are poorly maintained.
Common Golf Cart Injuries
The most common type of golf cart injury is soft tissue damage (bruising). While these are not usually too severe, included in the nearly 15,000 golf cart injuries that occur every year are severe or even fatal ones. Since there is no side protection, bone breaks and fractures can easily occur. Also, this lack of protection can lead to severe brain damage in the event that a person is thrown from a golf cart at high speed. Concussions and even fatalities are a possibility when it comes to golf cart accidents.
It is important to remember that most homeowner’s and auto insurance policies only cover golf cart injuries in specific instances. This generally excludes golf cart usage that occurs off of a golf course or off of the operator’s property. Considering the increase in non-recreational golf cart usage, this creates an insurance gap for golf cart drivers. Luckily, some of those responsible for golf cart injuries can be held responsible through premises liability, meaning that if the accident occurs on their premises, they will be liable.
What Do I Do After A Golf Cart Accident?
If you are involved in a golf cart accident, it is likely that auto insurance will not cover your injuries. This harsh reality means that you could be on your own for any injuries sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. The fact that children account for around 30% of golf cart injuries can only make your life more difficult if you are a parent of someone injured in an accident. Luckily, Miller & Zois has the resources and skills to ensure that you are compensated for injuries caused by someone else. Golf cart accidents are often caused by things out of your control like poor maintenance or irresponsible driving. No one should fall victim to such serious injuries at the hands of a recreational vehicle. Miller & Zois realizes this and will fight for the compensation you deserve. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.
When Is the Golf Club Liable?
For obvious reasons, many gold cart injuries occur at golf clubs or courses. When a gold cart accident occurs on the golf course, the owner/operator of the course is not always liable. However, there are many instances in which the golf course owner can be held liable for injuries suffered in a golf cart accident. The 2 main theories of liability against a golf course owner would be (a) premises liability and (b) negligent supervision.
The golf course could be liable for golf cart accident injuries under a premises liability theory if the plaintiff can show that the course was designed or maintained in a way that created a hazard or unsafe condition that contributed to the golf cart accident. For example, if the golf cart accident occurred because the cart path was too narrow, or had a blind turn, or crossed over a major road without adequate signage.
The other theory that could be used to hold the golf course owner liable would be negligent supervision or negligent entrustment. For example, if the golf cart accident is caused by another golfer who is intoxicated or is not qualified to operate the cart (e.g., a minor), a plaintiff could argue that the course was negligent in renting or failing to supervise.
Value of a Golf Cart Accident Case
It is impossible to predict the exact value of your case. Juries ultimately decide your case, and jurors are people with prejudices, biases, and varying intelligence levels. Still, the following cases should give you a general idea of the value of a golf cart accident case.
2022, Florida: $22,019 Verdict: plaintiff allegedly was struck by the defendant while he was operating a golf cart and suffered various soft-tissue injuries. Liability was admitted but the case went to trial because the defendant contested the extent and nature of the alleged injuries.
2022, Texas: $100,000 Settlement: plaintiff was a passenger on a gold cart driven by the daughter of the defendant (with the defendant’s consent) when the daughter lost control of the cart and caused a collision, resulting in injuries to the plaintiff. Case settled for $100k (presumably policy limits).
2020, California: $37,100 Verdict: plaintiff suffered ligament injuries when he was struck by a golf cart driven by an intoxicated driver. He sued the golf club claiming that it negligently rented the cart to the driver and negligently failed to supervise the driver.
2014, New Jersey: $275,000 Verdict: While playing golf, the plaintiff stands at a putting green when she is suddenly struck by a golf cart. She injures her leg, shoulder, and ankle, prompting her to sue the driver. As a result of the injuries, she undergoes surgery and alleges that she will no longer be able to partake in the physical activities she previously enjoyed. The defendant alleges that the plaintiff was actually at fault for walking in front of her cart. The jury awards the plaintiff $275,000.
2011, Virginia: $145,000 Verdict: A baggage handler at an airport drives his golf-cart next to an airplane when he is struck by a baggage tug. He suffers a torn meniscus and other injuries, which he alleges caused permanent disability. He sues the other truck driver, claiming that he had the right of way on the tarmac. However, the defendant alleges that the plaintiff was responsible for the accident. The jury awarded the plaintiff. $145,000.
2006, Pennsylvania: $60,000 Verdict: The plaintiff is a passenger in a golf cart who is playing with a foursome. When both carts begin driving after a shot, the second cart strikes the first cart, pinning the plaintiff’s leg between the carts. She sues the driver of her cart, alleging that the driver made an abrupt right turn, causing her leg fall out. She suffers nerve damage, however her condition is not permanent and will heal with time. The jury found the defendant 100% liable and awarded the plaintiff $60,000.
2003, Maryland: $27,758 Verdict: While participating in a golf tournament, the plaintiff rode as a passenger in a golf cart. When the cart in front on him stops short, the driver of his cart slams on the brakes. Their cart had a brake imbalance, which causes their cart to spin, ejecting the plaintiff and causing him to tear his rotator cuff. The plaintiff sues the golf course, alleging improper maintenance of the cart. The course claims that the accident was actually a driver error. The jury awards the plaintiff $27,758.
Getting a Lawyer for Your Case
Golf cart accident cases are not standard fare tort claims. You have to think creatively to find insurance and other deep pockets