Golf carts seem safe because they usually can’t go more than 15 miles per hour. However, they can cause serious, even fatal accidents, when not driven appropriately. Since golf carts lack basic safety features typical of automobiles, an accident can have devastating consequences. Operators of golf carts often overlook this. .
If you were harmed in a golf cart accident, you may be able to sue for damages. With the help of an excellent personal injury lawyer in Georgia, you can get compensation for injuries that weren’t your fault.
Get the assistance of Scholle Law, Georgia golf cart accident lawyers with thousands of satisfied clients. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Golf Cart Accidents
In 2011, Georgia Senate Bill 240 allowed golf carts to drive on roads up to 20 miles per hour. Since then, there is an increased risk of car collisions with golf carts. Since about 15% of golf cart accidents occur on the street, and these accidents have a higher chance of resulting in a severe injury or fatality, there is a significant cause for concern.
Some shocking data on golf car accidents:
- There are 15,000 golf cart injuries annually that require emergency room care, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission
- 69% of emergency room visits due to golf cart accidents are related to head injuries
- Most golf cart accidents involve the ejection of a passenger
- Golf carts are more prone to flipping over than regular motor vehicles
- Since 1990, golf cart accidents have been on the rise in Georgia
- Children make up 30% of golf cart accident victims
Golf Cart Injuries
The severity of injuries from a golf cart accident varies depending on the speed of the golf cart, the location of the mishap, and whether the golf cart came into contact with other vehicles. The location of the passengers in the cart also affects what kind of injuries occur.
Since golf carts don’t have doors, significant bumper protection, and often don’t have seat belts for individuals to wear (or individuals choose not to wear them), an impact with an object or vehicle can be fatal. Individuals may be flung from the vehicle or be the first contact with the oncoming vehicle.
Some golf car injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Sprains and strains
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Knee and shoulder injuries
- Neck and face injuries
Common Places Where Golf Cart Accidents Happen
Golf cart accidents don’t just happen on golf courses. These four-wheeled vehicles are more prevalent in society than you might think.
Be on alert for golf carts when you are in the following common places where golf cart accidents happen:
Golf carts are the most common way to get around a golf course. The long walks between holes and even between shots are cut short by driving in a golf cart. However, golf courses don’t often teach their drivers how to operate the machine safely. Some might even drive after drinking at the clubhouse.
Housing communities or residences are common places for golf carts to be used to help local or elderly residents get around. This prevents the need for cars and can help if the individuals are not capable of driving. However, these areas are also popular pedestrian zones, and golf cart drivers may not be paying adequate attention while ferrying passengers.
Smaller towns sometimes use golf carts as their main mode of transportation. These vehicles can drive on rough terrain better than scooters or bicycles but don’t cost as much as a car.
Some people drive their golf carts along roads beside other vehicles. This is extremely dangerous, as golf carts have a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. A collision with a motor vehicle can be fatal for those riding in the golf cart.
Resorts, especially during the summer months, use golf carts to assist passengers in getting from local cottages or villas to the main building. They may even offer golf carts to the visitors to drive themselves. This can be dangerous as individuals don’t know how to safely operate the vehicle.
Causes Of Golf Cart Accidents
Golf car accidents are typically the result of driver error. Since the vehicles only go 15 miles per hour, it’s difficult for them to malfunction in such a way that they would result in serious injuries. Drivers often see golf carts as a toy rather than a mechanical vehicle with the power to cause injuries, so they don’t take their responsibility seriously.
Common causes of golf cart accidents include:
- Reckless golf cart driving
- Driving while impaired
- Taking sharp turns at high speeds, thus flipping the golf cart
- Overloading the golf cart with passengers
- Distracted driving
- Driving on muddy, wet, or uneven ground, especially when doing so at high speeds
- Reversing downhill
- Hanging limbs outside of the vehicle
- Not putting on the brake when exiting the vehicle
Incidents of Golf Cart Deaths
Unfortunately, golf cart accidents resulting in fatalities are not as rare as they once were. With a 130% rise in golf cart accidents since 1990, it stands to reason that more deaths would be occurring as a result.
Some recent golf cart deaths include:
- At least 12 golf cart-related fatalities in The Villages, a Florida retirement community, in six years
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that golf carts kill dozens of Americans annually
- A 7-year-old boy in Ohio racing a 6-year-old friend who was on foot accidentally ran over his younger friend and killed him
- A 77-year-old man in South Carolina was killed when he veered off the road and hit another car, then a tree
- An 85-year-old woman from Louisiana was killed when her golf cart crashed and pinned her to the ground
- A 50-year-old man from Coos Country died when he flipped his golf cart going down a steep embankment
Georgia Golf Cart Laws
Golf carts used to be a grey area in the law between a motor vehicle and a toy. It was difficult to enforce driving safety when some of their qualifications meant that they were more like a scooter than a car.
In 2011, Georgia passed new laws regarding golf carts to separate them into their own classification of personal recreation vehicles. This law required that the following safety features be included on every golf cart in Georgia:
- Braking system
- Reverse warning signal
- Hip restraints
- Maximum speed of 20 miles per hour
- Weigh less than 1,375 pounds
- Must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles
Since 90% of the golf carts in the United States are made in Georgia, these laws increase the safety of using golf carts across the nation.
In Georgia, motorized carts (as golf carts are sometimes referred to) can be driven down Georgia streets. Some locations in Georgia that have greater use of golf carts have created golf cart lanes alongside traffic to make it safer for drivers to take their cart to the grocery store.
However, golf carts on the street must have equipment, such as headlights and a reversing warning noise to ensure the safety of those using them.
Golf Cart Safety Tips
While golf carts can be a lot of fun to drive, that fun can quickly be ruined by an accident. To avoid accidents and stay safe while operating a golf cart, follow these safety tips:
- Keep arms and legs in the vehicle at all times
- Seat belts should always be fastened
- Do not drive under the influence, drive recklessly, or text while driving
- Do not drive recklessly and take turns slowly
- Always check blind spots before turning
- Learn hand signals. Most golf carts do not have turn signals, so learn how to direct to local traffic where you are going
- Do not reverse down hills
- Avoid excessive speeds. Do not race golf carts.
- Reduce speed on dangerous roads or during wet conditions.
- Ensure the parking brake is engaged before you exit the vehicle
- Always yield to pedestrians, especially on golf courses
- Stay away from golf carts during lightning storms, as they attract lightning
- Only carry the appropriate number of passengers
- Do not allow anyone to stand or move while you’re driving
- Don’t speed down hills
Contact a Golf Cart Accident Lawyer TodayIf you have been injured in a golf cart accident, you need an expert attorney from Scholle Law. We can help you handle your insurance company to ensure you receive compensation for your damages.
Golf Cart Accident Questions and Answers
In Georgia, golf carts cannot weigh more than 1,375 pounds according to a 2011 statute.
However, most golf carts vary in weight. Some can be as light as 500 pounds, while others are heavier, at 1,100 pounds. A standard two-passenger golf cart is around 750 pounds.
Electric golf carts are heavier, weighing about 925 pounds for a two-passenger cart.
In Georgia, it is legal to drive golf carts on the road up to 20 miles per hour. To do so, your golf cart will need to meet certain safety regulations, including having a seat belt and tail lights.
Depending on where you live in Georgia, your area may even have golf cart-only lanes, similar to bike lanes, that drive alongside traffic to make your commute safer.
Be careful driving a golf cart near cars, as they pose a significant threat of injury if there is an accident.
Drivers need a valid license in Georgia to operate a golf cart on their own. You must be over 16 and legally allowed to drive a car.
However, anyone above 12 years old can drive a golf cart if they are accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 18. This is allowed on roadways and golf courses.
Adults should operate with caution when allowing children to drive golf carts on roads. These busy areas can be extremely dangerous, especially for someone who is not familiar with the rules of the road.
It depends on whether or not you own the golf car in which you have the accident. If you own the golf cart, your homeowner’s insurance may include some level of protection. However, it is a good idea to invest in golf cart insurance to cover damage to your vehicle and personal injury - both for yourself and for others if you are at fault.
Homeowner’s insurance will only cover golf carts on golf courses. Golf cart insurance will cover a damaged vehicle on city streets as well as on a golf course.
There are many factors involved in determining liability in a golf cart accident. They are often used on private property, are maintained by third parties, and require no special training.
These common circumstances may help you determine who is at fault:
- If the issue was caused by a mechanical error in the golf cart, the country club or mechanic may be at fault
- Inappropriate behavior by the driver makes them liable for any accidents
- If the driver is a golf course employee, the golf course may be liable
- If the driver was a teen or child, their parent is liable
- If the country club did not properly warn you about using the golf cart, they could be liable for an accident you caused
- The premises could be liable if their poor maintenance caused the accident
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