Golf Cart Accidents: A Primer
Between 1990 and 2006, golf cart accidents increased a startling 130 percent, as almost 148,000 victims were rushed to hospital emergency rooms during this period.
While many of these accidents involved collisions, about a third of them involved falls. Both kinds of incidents usually involve negligence, which means that another person or entity is responsible for the victim’s damages.
What Causes Golf Cart Accidents?
Since golf carts are motor vehicles, their operators generally have a duty of care to operate their carts in a reasonably safe manner; they must also obey “the rules of the road.” Commercial golf cart operators are probably common carriers if they transport goods and/or people for a fee, and so they have an even higher duty of care.
Vehicle/golf cart crashes nearly always end tragically for the golf cart occupants. In fact, on Christmas Eve in 2016, a Jeep rear-ended a golf cart in Pasco County, killing three of its four occupants almost instantly even though the crash did not occur at a particularly high speed.
Defective products cause many fall-related injuries. The hazardous defect could be a:
Design Defect: Golf carts usually do not have seat belts or side doors, even though the manufacturer knows that the cart will probably be used as a roadway motor vehicle. If the design was unsafe, and there was a reasonable alternative available, the manufacturer may be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Manufacturing Defect: Sometimes, products are well designed but poorly made. The issue could be cheap materials, an error in the manufacturing process, or an issue during shipment. If the defect occurs before the item leaves the manufacturer’s control, the manufacturer is liable for damages.
Misuse is a defense, but the product misuse must be extreme, such as using the golf cart as a boat.
Insurance Company Defenses
While misuse is difficult to establish in court, contributory negligence is fairly easy to prove. Essentially, insurance company lawyers try to shift as much blame as possible onto the victim. For example, the insurance company may admit that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was speeding, but insist that the victim was distracted.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state, so the judge apportions damages based solely on the percentage of fault. So, if the victim and tortfeasor were each 50 percent responsible and the damages were $50,000, the tortfeasor is liable for $25,000.
Contact Tenacious Attorneys
Golf cart accidents often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Orlando, contact Oldham & Smith. Our legal team is ready to assist you immediately.