Many People Hurt in Golf Cart Accidents
Golf cart accidents are common. One horrific example occurred in May 2023. A driver crashed her car into a golf cart carrying a newlywed couple just leaving their reception. The bride was killed — still wearing her wedding gown — and the groom seriously injured. (1)
There were 156,040 people treated in emergency rooms for golf cart related injuries over a 10-year period, according to National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data. (2)
Interestingly, 40% of golf cart accidents on golf courses involve experienced players, while 60% involve visitors. Worse yet, 70% of golf cart accidents occur on private golf courses. (3)
Causes of Golf Cart Accidents
No matter where golf cart accidents occur, there are some recognizable causes you should be aware of that can happen.
Golf cart accidents are often the result of a lack of attention to road safety or the lack of safety features in the design of the golf cart itself. (4)
Here are some of the most common causes of golf cart accidents: (5)
- Lack of seatbelts. Golf carts do not come with seatbelts.
- Hanging limbs. If parts of your body are extended outside the golf cart, they can get caught on something as you pass by.
- Uneven terrain. Rough pavement, slopes, and wet or muddy conditions can prove dangerous to drivers and passengers.
- Passengers under the influence. When golf cart passengers are riding after taking drugs or drinking alcohol, their behavior may compromise the safety of everyone onboard or around them.
- Driving under the influence. Drugs and alcohol increase the chances of accidents due to driver error.
- Inattentive drivers. Failure to maintain awareness of pedestrians and surroundings, lapses in attention to traffic and road conditions, and not employing defensive measures, can lead to accidents.
- Errant driving. Not obeying traffic laws may cause an accident. This includes speeding and neglecting to signal turns.
Some golf cart accidents may be due to the design of the golf cart itself. Golf carts are not equipped with the same safety features as other vehicles. These “missing” safety features include safety belts, doors, mirrors, and lights. (6)
Additional causes of golf cart accidents include: (7)
- Collision with another vehicle or object.
- People falling or jumping from the golf cart. This often relates to a lack of seatbelts and doors.
- Getting struck or run over by a golf cart.
- Rollovers cause 10% of golf cart accidents. Rollovers can be related to failure to adhere to vehicle weight requirements, excessive speed, or improper turning. (8)
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What Are Common Injuries?
Golf cart accidents can lead to serious injuries, even death. The injuries are similar to injuries sustained in other accidents involving motor vehicles.
Here are some of the common injuries from golf cart accidents:
- Death — Although less frequent than other injuries, fatalities can and do occur.
- Head injuries — Children sustained traumatic brain injuries at over three times the rate incurred by adults in these accidents. (9)
- Amputations — Across the U.S., there were nearly 500 cases of amputations and lacerations treated in emergency departments over a 15-year period. (10)
- Fractures — There were almost 800 cases of fractures treated in U.S. emergency room over a 15-year period. (11)
- Cuts and lacerations — These require treatments ranging from bandages, to stitches, to even amputations.
- Dislocations — Dislocations and fractures account for 20% of any of the pediatric injuries. (12)
- Soft tissue injuries — As much as 18% of these incidents resulted in internal or soft tissue injuries to children. (13)
- Strains and sprains — Nearly 7% of injuries to children from these incidents were strains or sprains. (14)
Compensation from a Golf Cart Accident
As a victim of a golf cart accident, you may have medical expenses for treatment. You may also have a loss of income when you must take time off of work. This is why compensation is such an important component in any legal claim.
When you are injured in a golf cart accident, it is called a “personal injury” case. In these lawsuits, you seek damages in the form of monetary awards.
These financial awards typically include:
- In-home care costs.
- Medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Lost wages (past, future, or both).
- Property damage.
Damages may also be awarded for your loss of irreplaceable items — especially if they have sentimental value — and reimbursement for any altered travel plans.
For example, if you were in a golf cart accident and were wearing a family heirloom watch broken beyond repair. You may be able to obtain damages for that watch. While damages cannot restore the sentimental value of the watch, the money may compensate somewhat for its loss.
Another example might be if you had paid to go on a cruise but had to cancel plans due to recovery from injuries you sustained in a golf cart accident. You may be awarded damages to reimburse you for whatever nonrefundable money you had paid in advance. This could include the cruise tickets, tour and hotel reservations, airfare, and other travel-related costs.
When a defendant’s actions are considered to be excessively careless, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are unrelated to the type or severity of your injuries; they are meant to be punishment. Punitive damage awards are rare.
What To Do After an Accident
If you have been in a golf cart accident, there are things you should do as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Immediately following any accident, especially a golf cart accident, seek medical attention. You need to do this even if your injuries appear minor at the time. Any treatment you receive helps establish medical records. These can help support your legal claims regarding the accident.
Next, you need to report the accident to the appropriate authorities. Again, this step is key to any legal options you choose to exercise regarding the accident.
Another good idea is to collect contact information of witnesses, first responders, and anyone who was at the scene at the time of your accident. You should also take pictures of the accident scene and of your injuries and of anyone else who was hurt. These things can help support your claims to take legal action later.
Finally, you want to obtain an attorney and provide all of this information. Your attorney evaluates your case and help you consider what legal options you have.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury from a golf cart accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today to understand your legal rights.
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Filing a Golf Cart Accident Lawsuit
Golf cart accident lawsuits generally fall under personal injury. They may also involve wrongful death or product liability. Some cases may fit a combination of all three. So, it is important to understand the distinctions.
Personal injury includes any kind of injury to your body, emotions, or reputation. Under this category, there are three potential claims: (15)
- Negligence. For negligence to be considered, the defendant (party being sued) did not exercise the same level of care an ordinary person would have under similar circumstances. For example, the driver of a car is going at excessive speed when they run a stop sign and hit your golf cart, resulting in injury to you.
- Strict liability. This means the defendant is liable for an action. The defendant’s mental state or intent at the time is not relevant. An example would be a manufacturer is responsible for harm done by their defective product, even though they did not intentionally make defective products.
- Intentional wrongs. This is an injury resulting from a willful or intentional act by the defendant. One good example would be a road rage incident involving a golf cart. Here, the defendant wanted to cause harm and took actions they knew would result in harm to you.
Wrongful death suits are brought against people or companies responsible for a person’s death, either knowingly or through negligence. Damages in these cases take into consideration: (16)
- Loss of income, including future income.
- Funeral expenses.
- Pain and suffering experienced by survivors of the deceased.
- Emotional harm, especially if the deceased suffered while dying.
“Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product.” (17)
Product liability claims may be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty of fitness. Usually, to prove strict liability or breach of warranty of fitness, there must be defects in the design, manufacturing, or marketing of the product itself. (18)
Steps to File a Lawsuit
Whatever legal options you choose to exercise, it is wise to move as quickly as possible. In the State of New York, especially in New York City, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within 1 year and 90 days of the date of the incident. (19)
In New York, a lawsuit must be filed in the proper county. It can be the county where you or the defendant lives, works, or transacts business. (20)
The first step in bringing a lawsuit is taken by you, the plaintiff (the person suing). You file an Application for a Pro Se Summons with the clerk and pay the appropriate fees. (21)
Next, the clerk issues a summons and complaint along with an index number. You then have the summons served to the defendant within 20 days. (22)
The defendant has 20 to 30 days to appear in court and file an answer. After the defendant has filed an answer, the case is put on the Personal Appearance Part calendar and a court date is set. (23)
Who Can File a Lawsuit
Anyone harmed physically or emotionally — or who suffered property damage — in a golf cart accident can file a lawsuit. The lawsuit establishes legal responsibility for the accident and may award monetary damages as compensation.
Family members of someone hurt in a golf cart accident can file a lawsuit on their loved one’s behalf. For example, the surviving family members of a deceased person, parents of an injured child, and caretaker of an elderly or disabled individual, can all file a lawsuit on the injured person’s behalf.
Choosing a Golf Cart Accident Lawyer
W&L has years of experience with personal injury legal cases. Our track record of success is well established, both in New York City and nationwide. We have dedicated attorneys who faithfully represent our client’s interests. And we see cases through from start to finish.
If you seek a golf cart accident lawyer, you want your attorney to be knowledgeable and experienced in personal injury, wrongful death, and product liability litigations. You also want an attorney who is compassionate and committed to obtaining the optimal outcome for your case.
How W&L Can Help
Personal injury, wrongful death, and product liability cases can be complex and involve many defendants. These cases demand attentive and persistent legal representation to gain just compensation for people like you, who have suffered much through no fault of their own.
At W&L, our record of success speaks for itself. Here are just a few: