Golf carts are everywhere in Florida. While golf carts used to be reserved exclusively for the links, today golf carts crisscross neighborhoods and take families to restaurants and grocery stores on a daily basis.
While golf carts provide a fun and easy mode of transportation, they can also be dangerous. Golf cart accidents are fairly common, and these accidents frequently lead to fractures, concussions and other serious injuries. If you or your child has been injured in one of these accidents, understanding why the accident happened will be important—as this will determine your family’s legal rights.
Understanding the Most Common Causes of Golf Cart Accidents
So, why do golf cart accidents occur? Some of the most common factors in these accidents include:
1. Careless Driving
Since getting in a golf cart and setting off is fairly easy, many people take driving them for granted. Rather than focusing on the task at hand, they talk to their passengers, look at their surroundings and assume that car, truck and SUV drivers will give them plenty of room.
But, this carelessness can be dangerous. Golf cart accidents frequently happen when their drivers are being inattentive or assume that other drivers are watching out for their safety. Golf cart drivers need to pay attention, and they need to treat driving a golf cart just like they would treat driving any other vehicle.
2. Reckless Driving
In some cases, golf cart drivers’ conduct goes beyond careless. Reckless driving is a common cause of golf cart accidents as well. Reckless golf cart driving includes (but is not limited to):
- “Flooring it” when it is necessary to go slower
- Taking turns and hills without slowing down
- Slamming on the brakes instead of slowing down gradually
- Running off of the road
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Driving after dark without headlights or brake lights
- Playing games with other golf cart drivers
3. Alcohol Impairment
Golf cart accidents frequently happen when someone who is drunk decides to get behind the wheel. Driving a golf cart under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car, truck or SUV while impaired. Drunk golf cart drivers are more likely to make reckless decisions and careless mistakes, and they are far less likely to be able to avoid dangerous collisions.
4. Failure To Observe the Rules of the Road
Golf cart drivers need to observe the rules of the road just like everyone else. Unfortunately, not all golf cart drivers follow the law. For example, intersection accidents involving golf carts are particularly common, and these accidents often happen when golf cart drivers fail to come to a complete stop before turning or proceeding through.
5. Failure To Conduct Necessary Maintenance
Just like other vehicles, golf carts need regular maintenance. While electric golf carts don’t need oil changes, golf cart owners need to ensure that their brakes, tires and electrical systems are all in good working order. Worn-out brake pads, underinflated tires, batteries that short circuit and various other maintenance issues can all lead to sudden and unexpected emergencies on the road.
6. Overloading Passengers or Cargo
Overloading is a common cause of golf cart accidents as well. This includes overloading golf carts with too many passengers and overloading golf carts with too much cargo. All golf carts have weight limits, and many neighborhood golf carts have been retrofitted with extra seats and storage areas that the original manufacturer didn’t anticipate. As a result, owners may overload their golf carts without realizing it, and this can lead to handling issues, inability to stop safely and various other safety issues.
7. Lack of Seatbelts
Many golf carts do not have seatbelts. This is unfortunate, because even at 15 to 20 miles per hour, a crash involving a golf cart can eject its passengers resulting in serious injuries. If a golf cart tips over, wearing a seatbelt can often save drivers and passengers from crush injuries as well.
Determining the Cause of a Golf Cart Accident
When golf cart accidents result in serious injuries, victims and their families can seek just compensation. The first step in this process is determining who (or what company) is liable, and this means determining the cause of the accident.
Determining the cause of a golf cart accident is similar to determining the cause of any other vehicle collision. It requires a prompt investigation; and, depending on the circumstances involved, it may be necessary to gather evidence from other sources as well.
In a typical scenario, the main steps involved in determining why a golf cart accident occurred will include:
- Examining the Scene of the Accident – Evidence available at the scene of the accident (i.e., skid marks, damaged grass and debris on the side of the road) can provide key insight into what happened and why.
- Examining the Golf Cart – The location and extent of the damage to the golf cart can also provide insight into how the accident happened and who is responsible.
- Examining Any Other Vehicles Involved – In cases involving collisions with other vehicles, examining the other vehicle can help with determining which driver is liable.
- Assessing the Nature of the Victim’s Injuries – In many cases, assessing the nature of a golf cart accident victim’s injuries can help with understanding how the accident occurred as well.
- Obtaining Receipts, Cell Phone Records or Other Documents – Obtaining receipts from bars and restaurants, cell phone records, maintenance records, and various other types of documents can also be critical for determining liability for a golf cart accident.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Rights After a Golf Cart Accident in Florida
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a golf cart accident in Florida, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights. Our lawyers can investigate the accident; and, if warranted, we can file a claim on your behalf. You can reach us 24/7, so call 800-780-8607 or tell us how we can help online now.