Golf Cart Accidents and Liability — 15,000 Crashes Every Year in the U.S.
A golf cart is a motor vehicle and can be prone to serious and deadly accidents just like other vehicles, but very few people recognize these small motorized carts as being dangerous.
Sure most golf carts only drive about 15 mph, but many owners have them modified to go up to 25 mph or more and they also operate them on both public and private roadways.
There are roughly 15,000 golf cart accidents requiring emergency treatment are reported annually in the United States, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Typically people are hurt when they fall off the golf cart, it overturns or they are hit by a driver as a pedestrian. Specifically, rollover crashes account for about 10 percent of the crashes, they are also more likely to cause the most serious injuries and deaths. The average golf cart typically weight about 1,000 pounds and if you are hit by it or it falls on you there can be serious injuries or death.
Many of these accidents are the result of drivers driving too fast on uneven terrain, braking suddenly, sharp turns, underestimating their abilities, steep hills and even mechanical failure.
A golf cart drives very differently than a car or other motor vehicles. The brakes are usually located on the back two wheels as opposed to on all four wheels. There are usually no seat belts to restrain occupants so any sudden jerking movement can cause a person to fall out.
Indeed, there have been more than 147,000 injuries in the United States between 1990 and 2007 on golf cars, according to a 2007 study conducted by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Roughly a third or 31.2 of all these injuries were by children and teenagers who were either passengers or drivers, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reports.
Serious Golf Car Accidents
There are many serious and deadly accidents that have been reported over the years in California and throughout the United States involving golf carts.
Some recent golf cart accidents in the news include one involving entertainer Pia Zadora who suffered a serious head injury and broke her ankle when she fell from a golf cart driven by her teenage son near her Las Vegas home in September 2014.
The same month Pia Zadora was injured, a 27-year-old Stoughton, Massachusetts man was killed when the golf cart he was riding on at a golf course overturned on a steep hill. He suffered a massive head injury and died.
A month later in Fresno, California, two students suffered serious neck and back injuries and a broken leg, while eight others had minor injuries when a special-needs student stepped into a golf cart and hit the gas in October 2014.
A 10-year-old boy died in September 2013 in the upscale Beverly Park neighborhood when a modified golf car he was riding on overturned on top of him. He suffered a massive head injury from the accident and died the same day.
In February 2013, Bonnie Herndon suffered serious head injury and remains in a coma after falling from a golf cart at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo during a Toby Keith concert. The golf cart was driven by a rodeo employee who was taking Herndon to the parking lot when they made a sharp turn and she was thrown on her head. The victim’s family sued and settled the case this year.
Who is Liable for Injuries in Golf Car Accidents?
The party that is liable for injuries in a golf cart accident would depend upon the specific facts of each case. For example, a driver could be held liable if they were negligent and caused injuries to passengers or pedestrians. The driver could be driving reckless, drunk or taking risks while behind the wheel.
Additionally, if an accident is caused by a defect such as a mechanical problem with the golf cart or a poorly maintained private or public golf course, the property owner may be held liable. The property owner has a duty to warn golf cart users of dangers such as uneven pavement or pot holes, etc.
A golf cart may or may not have insurance coverage, but its driver may be insured under their own motor vehicle policy and that could provide coverage if you are hurt.
The facts of each individual situation are unique. If you are injured in a crash and need legal assistance, contact Johnson Attorneys Group for a free consultation at 800-235-6801.