Cruising around the golf course on a sunny day can make any adult feel like a kid again. The tiny wheels, door-free sides and quiet motor can make you forget you are still operating or riding in a vehicle that requires responsible handling to avoid risk. Whether you are the driver or passenger of a golf cart, it is important to know the risks associated with golf cart use and who could be liable in the case of a golf cart accident.
How Common Are Golf Cart Injuries?
Since 1990, medical professionals have treated over 150,000 golf cart-related injuries in the United States. Patients ages ranged from two months to 96 years, and soft tissue damage was the most common type of damage at just under 50%. An official study found golf cart-related injuries have been increasing every year, and some accidents have even resulted in death.
The Risks of Golf Carts
Although golf carts seem safe, the perceived safety could be the very thing that leads to reckless operation and ultimately injury. Understanding why golf carts pose a risk can help cart operators take greater care and prevent accidents.
- Golf carts lack the safety features of cars. There are no seatbelts, airbags, bumpers or doors. The materials manufacturers use to make golf carts are less durable, making a collision with a tree, rock or other cart even more dangerous.
- There are less rules for safe operation. When driving on the road, there are lanes, stop lights, speed limits and traffic police to enforce all the rules. On golf courses and other large stretches of land, these rules do not apply. The freedom gives many golf cart drivers the incentive to speed, take sharp turns and generally pay less attention to the task at hand.
- Alcohol is often a factor. Many areas where people use golf carts have alcohol available and do not strictly enforce rules to limit alcohol consumption. This leads drivers to operate golf carts while under the influence, which can inhibit judgment and decision-making abilities.
- Owners often ignore regular maintenance. Maintenance for golf carts is just as important as other vehicles. They have less advanced construction of engines and starter components. Many golf cart owners do not think to work on the cart unless a problem arises, but waiting for a problem to show up means a problem could unexpectedly affect the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.
- Rough terrain causes issues. Golf courses have many hills that make golf carts susceptible to rollovers. People typically drive golf carts on unpaved areas, and it is common for operators to move at high speeds.
Injuries From Golf Cart Operation
Though the most common injury from golf cart accidents is soft tissue damage, some more severe damages can include bone breakage and even brain damage. In a few cases, these accidents led to death.
Who Is Liable in a Golf Cart Accident?
Depending on the driver’s behavior at the time of the accident, the liability could fall on several parties. First, the company that manufactured the cart could be at fault if the accident was the result of a design issue. Elements of the property where someone was driving the cart could contribute to an accident, leaving the property owner with liability. If the cart belongs to the club and the club failed to maintain it, the club might be to blame.
Golf carts may seem harmless, but the numbers show otherwise. Always take care when using a golf cart and advise others to do the same. Personal injury lawyers can assist with golf cart-related injuries to determine fault and recover damages.