Golf Cart Accidents
Florida Accident Law Firm for Golf Cart Injuries
Florida is the undisputed golf course capital of the country: It has more than 1,500 courses, more than any other state. Year-around warm weather, lush landscapes, big-name resorts and accessible public courses add up to a golf mecca for residents and tourists alike.
- But there’s a dark side to this recreational enjoyment, and it’s not confined to golf courses. Golf cart deaths and injuries are becoming more common: On college campuses, at sports events, in hospitals and airports, and especially in retirement communities where golf carts are residents’ preferred mode of transportation.
- For example, in The Villages, a Florida retirement community outside of Orlando, there have been at least a dozen golf cart-related fatalities over a six-year period – plus many more accidents where elderly residents were injured in collisions with motor vehicles on busy streets or were ejected from their carts because of a rollover.
Golf carts were designed to be used off-road and at speeds of less than 15 miles an hour. They lack the safety features of other transportation vehicles, such as windshield wipers, signal lights, mirrors, and, in many cases, even seatbelts. Therein lie the dangers!
Because golf carts are largely unregulated, it is difficult to quantify deaths and injuries. In Florida, for example, neither the Florida Highway Patrol nor local law enforcement agencies keep statistics on golf cart accidents.
But here’s what we do know:
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that golf cart accidents kill dozens of Americans annually.
- A four-year study by The University of Alabama at Birmingham estimates that about 15,000 each year are injured in golf cart accidents across the country.
- The June 2008 issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that nearly 150,000 people, from two months old to age 96, were injured in golf cart accidents between 1990 and 2006.
Most Golf Cart Accidents Involve Children, Elderly
Existing data supports anecdotal evidence that golf cart accidents are more likely to occur among children and the elderly.
Golf cart deaths reported by national media in 2013 include:
- A seven-year-old Ohio boy in a golf court, racing a six-year-old friend who was on foot. The golf court ran over the younger boy and killed him.
- A Los Angeles ten year old driving a modified golf cart that tipped over and fell on top of him, crushing him to death.
- A 77-year-old South Carolina man killed when the golf cart he was driving veered off the road and hit another car, then a tree.
The most common causes of golf cart injuries and deaths are:
- Overcrowding with too many passengers;
- Arms or legs hanging outside the cart;
- Sharp turns;
- Sudden reversal while going downhill;
- Driving in wet or uneven terrain; and
- Driver distractions such as eating, drinking, or cell phone use.
Even just one of these conditions or behavior can result in a driver or passenger death or injuries that include fractures, concussions, lacerations, spinal injuries, respiratory complications, and partial or complete paralysis.
Florida Injury Lawyers with Golf Cart Accident Experience
Our personal injury attorneys at Searcy Denney have hands-on experience representing victims of golf cart accidents and their families.
- In Wellington, an equestrian and golf community in Palm Beach County, a resident driving a golf cart with friends on board stood up to wipe moisture from the windshield while approaching a curve in the road. As she jerked the cart’s steering wheel to the left, a woman passenger was thrown out of the cart and onto the paved road, where she forcefully struck her head. The passenger was evacuated by helicopter to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries a few days later.The golf cart driver and her passengers had been drinking at a Super Bowl party, and a blood test showed that the driver’s blood alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit in Florida. She was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Searcy Denney attorneys Chris Searcy and Karen Terry represented the parents of the golf cart accident victim and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and the owners of the golf cart. After a contentious, long-drawn-out process, on the eve of the scheduled trial the defendants agreed to settle the matter for $4 million.
- In another case handled by our Florida accident firm, a teenager who had received permission from her parents to pick up a girlfriend in the family’s golf cart made a sharp turn not far from their house. The girlfriend fell out, smashing her head on the asphalt street.After being evacuated by helicopter to a local hospital, she underwent emergency brain surgery that removed the top half of her skull. As a result, she suffered permanent brain injury that will plague her the rest of her life.
- In yet another case, handled by personal injury attorney Greg Barnhart, an elderly man accelerated the golf cart he was driving and, at top speed, drove directly into a woman standing at the rear of her own golf cart. The woman’s leg was nearly ripped off at the scene; she suffered a severe compound fracture and most of the soft tissue, muscles, ligaments and tendons on the lower part of her calf were sheared off the bone. She underwent emergency surgery – the first of eight painful operations.Once a scratch golfer, this woman is now wheelchair-bound, facing additional bone surgery and skin grafting.
Golf Cart Safety Tips from Florida Accident Attorneys
Most often, golf cart accidents are caused by a driver’s negligence. But both drivers and passengers can protect themselves from death or injury by following simple safety rules:
- Drivers should brake slowly, especially going downhill, and be prepared to use the handgrip if necessary. They should avoid sharp turns, and consider weather and terrain in driving a reasonable speed that is below the 15 miles per hour speed limit.
- Passengers should use seatbelts when they are available and sit back in the seat so that hip restraints will help keep them inside. Both feet should be firmly on the golf cart floor, with arms and legs inside at all times.
- Children under 16 should not be driving a golf cart – although some states, including Florida, allow children as young as 14 to drive. Parents should not let children younger than six years old ride along.
Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Ready to Help You
If you or a family member has been involved in a golf cart accident that resulted in death or serious injury, Searcy Denney has the experienced Florida injury attorneys and resources you need to fight for you against defendants attorneys and insurance companies. Our skilled investigators, trained paralegals and client-focused staff are at the ready to support your legal team and help you seek recovery for your loss.