Golf carts are a common site if you live in Florida. Whether being driven on a golf course or utilized as a neighborhood mode of transportation, the number of golf carts in Florida is rising at an astonishing rate. With the most golf courses of any state in the nation (over one thousand courses according to the National Golf Foundation), the abundance of golf carts is understandable. Yet the rising use of golf carts as an acceptable method of travel within residential neighborhoods is seen as a major factor in the ever increasing number of carts that are owned by private individuals. This is especially true of both retirement communities and gated neighborhoods, both of which are common in many areas of Florida. In some of these communities, golf carts have become the most prevalent mode of travel within the community by the residents. One such community is known as The Villages located about 60 miles northwest of Orlando. It’s therefor not surprising that the number of golf cart crash related accidents and injuries is dramatically rising throughout Florida, as well as the rest of the nation. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are in excess of 17,000 golf cart crashes and accidents annually that require a visit to the hospital or emergency room in the US. Surprisingly, in over forty percent of the crashes and accidents the injured person was a minor or child under sixteen years of age. The conclusion being made by many people is that golf cart related injuries are not just being seen on the golf courses and happening to the demographic groups associated with playing golf. The “neighborhood” cart accidents are occurring everywhere and injuries are being frequently seen in all age groups.
Using The Villages As a Florida Example
As mentioned above, The Villages is a planned age-restricted community that is located in the Central Florida area. With a 55+ population of retirees, residents of The Villages are proud of their community and active lifestyle. With approximately 52,000 residents, it is estimated that there are in excess of fifty thousand privately owned golf carts in the community, with many households owning two or more. A recent report noted that approximately eighty percent of the residents use their cart as their primary mode of transportation and for traveling around their own neighborhood on a daily basis.
Cart crashes and accidents are almost a daily occurrence according to some residents of The Villages. In an extreme example, an accident resulted in the death of a 51 year old female this past summer. In late July of 2017, a woman died after being thrown from a cart driven by another person. They were returning home after leaving a local bar when the driver made a sudden U turn that threw the victim out of the golf cart. According to the Police report, the driver fled from the accident scene and was arrested for DUI manslaughter and fleeing the scene of an accident.
The Villages was also in the media spotlight several years ago for another case that centered around a golf cart accident. In that particular case a resident was driving on a public road, was hit by a passing car and crashed his cart into another stopped golf cart driven by another Village resident. The accident resulted in serious injuries. What made this case attract so much media attention was that the insurance company involved refused to pay damages because the owner of the cart had modified it (or “souped it up”). Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal reversed a Sumter County circuit judge’s previous ruling that was in favor of the Security National Insurance Company and ruled that “an automobile insurer must cover damages caused by a policy holder who was driving a modified golf cart at the time of the accident”.
The Issues Involved With Golf Carts and Accidents
As previously discussed, golf carts are no longer used just on the golf course. They’ve become a primary mode of transportation in many residential neighborhoods, plus they are increasingly being utilized in such public venues as hospitals, theme parks and attractions, airports and sports events as a method for transporting people. Many point out that today’s generation of carts are also much more powerful than previously seen, with some able to travel as fast as 25+ miles per hour.
Another issue is that the majority of golf carts are not subject to any federal governmental regulations. Laws vary from state to state and sometimes from region to region. As an example, Florida law currently allows any person over the age of fourteen the privilege to drive a golf cart without having to pass a test or have a valid driver’s license. In some areas driving a cart is restricted on public thoroughfares to those approved by the local municipality. See Florida Statute 316.212. Additionally, no approved safety features are mandated and seat belts are only required if a person is driving over twenty miles per hour.
The most common cause of injuries from cart crashes is when the cart tips over and passengers fall out. This happens commonly due to driver negligence or improper driver training. It’s also commonly seen when a driver hits a curb, encounters a bump in the roadway or makes too sharp of a turn. Taking the cart “off-road” is also dangerous because golf-carts are simply not stable enough or engineered to prevent a rollover, nor can they brake as steadily as a car or truck.
What You Should Do If You Are Involved In A Golf Cart Accident
As we previously discussed in a recent post on car accidents:
Document, Document, Document – Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!
Remember that every situation is in some way perhaps unique. Yet the bottom line in any type of accident situation is to Document, Document, Document! Although everyone hopes that they will never be involved in a crash or accident that results in serious injuries, the same rules apply. Take pictures and videos of the scene (and any dangerous conditions) immediately. I can’t emphasize this enough. Pictures, Pictures, Pictures. Today, most everyone has some kind of camera in their phones. They are more than adequate to take pictures and videos of the scene and you will never get another chance to capture what the conditions at the accident scene looked like.
Florida Golf Cart Accident Lawyer
If you sustain a personal injury caused by a golf cart accident or crash, consider hiring an attorney. You may be entitled to have your medical bills, lost wages and any damages you incurred paid by the owner of the golf cart or your insurance company. At the Law Office of Mark A. Risi, our Orlando personal injury attorneys will go to work for you to obtain the compensation you deserve. Our experienced attorneys have handled numerous such cases throughout Florida and the Central Florida area that involved injuries from golf cart accidents. We would be honored to help you with your case. For a free case evaluation or if you have any questions about Golf Cart Accidents, please feel free to call us today at (407) 423-1313 or contact us online and we will answer any questions that you may have.