Golf Cart Accidents
People tend to view golf carts as harmless modes of transportation that get you around the golf course or help you navigate your Florida community. Golf carts are even being used more frequently at the workplace. Unfortunately, serious golf cart accidents are a common occurrence and victims of golf cart crashes can be left with devastating injuries.
Golf carts are more dangerous than many people think. In fact, under Florida law golf carts are labeled a “dangerous instrumentality,” the same as a car.
While posted golf cart speed limits are lower, it is not unusual for golf carts to reach as much as 40 miles per hour. And while you must be at least 16 in Florida to obtain a driver’s license, children as young as 14 are allowed to drive golf carts, even though they have had no formal motor vehicle driving training.
Across the country, more than 13,000 golf cart accidents result in personal injuries severe enough to require victims to seek hospital medical treatment each year. Many retirement and residential communities in Florida authorize visitors and residents to operate golf carts on designated roadways and paths. The Villages alone is home to more than 90 miles of golf cart pathways and approximately half of its 80,000 residents drive golf carts.
It comes as no surprise that the influx of golf cart use has led to more injuries. Golf cart crashes in The Villages are a frequent occurrence and are the reason so many victims seek the assistance of The Villages golf cart accident attorneys at Whittel & Melton.Types of Golf Cart Accidents
Golf carts leave drivers and passengers with virtually no protection in the event of an accident. While most modern golf carts have headlights and turn signals, as a general rule they do not have standard safety equipment you would find in cars, such as windshield wipers, airbags, and mirrors. Many golf carts do not even have seatbelts. While usually golf carts are not supposed to exceed 20 mph, even at that speed dangerous accidents can occur. Many golf cart operators are subject to driving conditions where they are forced to share the roadways with faster-moving vehicles. A golf cart traveling 20 mph can cause a lot of damage, especially in situations where the cart rolls over.
Drivers and passengers in golf carts are extremely vulnerable if they are struck by another motor vehicle, such as a car or truck. The Villages golf cart accident attorneys at Whittel & Melton have experience dealing with all types of golf cart accidents, including:
- Single cart crashes
- Multiple-cart pile ups
- Hitting a pedestrian
- Collisions between other types of motor vehicles and golf carts
Like other types of motor vehicle accidents, there can be many reasons that an accident occurs. In many instances, a crash is due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another person. This can sometimes be difficult to prove, which is why a The Villages golf cart accident attorney can help you determine whether and to what extent another person could be at fault.
Some common reasons for golf cart accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Overcrowding the golf cart
- Driving in unsuitable or unsafe weather conditions
- Hanging limbs outside of the golf cart
- Making too sharp turns
- Neglecting to lock the brake before exiting the cart
- Equipment failure
While the golf cart operator and passengers are vulnerable to being injured due to the negligence of the driver of another motor vehicle or other third party, there are some general safety measures anyone who travels in a golf cart can take to help avoid accident and injury.
- Do not drink and operate a golf cart
- Do not operate a golf cart while under the influence of drugs, including prescription medication
- Take weather conditions into account and wait out severe storms or other weather conditions that can limit visibility or cause slipping and skidding
- Brake slowly, especially if traveling downhill
- Drive at a speed that is safe for conditions and pathway, regardless of the posted speed limit
- Keep arms and legs inside the cart at all times
- Be careful when turning, and especially avoid turning too sharply
- Do not let inexperienced drivers or underage children drive the golf cart without supervision
- Make sure the golf cart is visible both during daylight and at night
While golf carts travel at slower speeds than other motor vehicles and are not as heavy, the danger of injury from rollovers or collisions are potentially severe and can even be life threatening.
Common golf cart-related injuries include:
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Cuts and bruises
- Fractures and broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Face and neck injuries
- Wrist and hand injuries
- Wrongful death
One of the most important jobs of your The Villages golf cart accident attorney is to collect all the evidence and data to help you demonstrate to a court that the accident was caused by another person’s negligence or wrongful act and that he or she should be held responsible.
Determining fault often can require that a professional conduct an in-depth investigation of every aspect of the accident, including the circumstances leading up to the crash and all the circumstances surrounding the accident itself.
A thorough investigation will also usually include an inspection of all of the vehicles involved in the accident and an examination of the scene of the accident, as well as obtaining and reviewing any police reports about the incident. In addition, any witnesses to the accident will need to be located and interviewed.
All of this information needs to be collected, analyzed, and then organized and presented in a way that will convince a jury that the person who caused the accident should be held responsible for paying damages.
Working with experienced The Villages golf cart accident attorneys who have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident helps you receive the best representation possible.Golf Cart Accident Damages
If you are injured in a golf car accident due to the negligence of another person or because of faulty golf cart equipment or other malfunction supporting a product liability claim, a The Villages golf cart accident attorney can help you determine the amount of damages you may be entitled to as compensation for your injuries.
Damages fall into three categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.Economic Damages
Economic damages are the actual monetary losses you incur as a result of the harm done to you.
These include past and future medical expenses, past and future wage losses, and the loss of a job or business opportunities. Possible types of economic damages, when they are objective and verifiable, are:Medical Expenses
You can expect to be compensated for what you have paid in hospital and other medical expenses, as well as the anticipated costs of medical care in the future. A golf cart accident can result in significant medical bills, and sometimes they can be ongoing for years or even a lifetime. A victim could require skilled nursing care or in-home assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, cooking, cleaning, and shopping.
In order to provide evidence of these expenses, you can provide copies of hospital and other medical bills, as well as expert testimony about what future care costs are likely to be.Loss of Wages
Due to your injuries, you may be out of work for an extended period of time. Your economic damages will include the income you missed out on as a result of not being able to work. Pay stubs and other documentation relating to your wages – both current and future – provide evidence of this wage loss.Loss of a Job
If you either lose your job because of being absent due to the injury, or you are not able to return to work because of the damages, you can receive compensation equal to what you would have earned had the injury never occurred.Loss of Business Opportunities
If you have lost business opportunities because of your injury, you can be awarded compensation for this loss, as long as you can provide evidence to quantify how the injury affected your business earnings and opportunities.Cost of Vehicle or Other Personal Property Repair
If your property was damaged because of the negligence of another, you are eligible to receive compensation for the repair or replacement of your property.Non-Economic Damages
While it is much more difficult to put a price on non-economic damages, they are every bit as valid as quantifiable economic damages. Non-economic damages include emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and the general loss of the enjoyment of life.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that caps on non-economic damages are unconstitutional. Your The Villages medical malpractice attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.Punitive Damages
The purpose of punitive damages is to deter malicious or reckless behavior. Punitive are not designed to compensate the victim for any kind of loss, but instead exist solely to punish the wrongdoer.
Punitive damages are only allowed in certain types of cases, such as where the injury was the result of someone acting recklessly or in a wanton fashion, or even acting intentionally. An example of a situation where punitive damages could be awarded is in certain situations where the person who caused your injuries was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. A The Villages golf cart accident attorney can advise you on whether you are able to seek punitive damages in your specific situation.
If you do seek punitive damages in your case, a jury will be advised to award punitive damages only if:
- The defendant’s conduct was so flagrant and gross as to show a complete disregard for human life or the safety of those around,
- The defendant’s conduct demonstrated an entire lack of care or indifference toward the consequences of his or her actions,
- The defendant showed a reckless or wanton disregard for public welfare, and/or
- The defendant’s actions showed such reckless indifference to the rights of others as to equate to an intentional violation of those rights.
It is important to contact The Villages golf cart accident attorneys as soon as possible after your accident. Your medical bills and other expenses are going to start piling up immediately so the sooner your case gets started the closer you will be to recovering for your damages. In addition, there are statutory time limits on filing lawsuits for personal injury. In Florida, anyone who sustains an injury in a golf cart accident must file a claim within four years from the date of the accident. Missing this deadline could bar you from ever being able to pursue a claim.Why You Need a Strong Advocate in a Golf Cart Accident Case
The experienced The Villages golf cart accident attorneys at Whittel & Melton know how to negotiate settlements with insurance companies and others to help you get the most compensation you are entitled to.
We also know that sometimes going to trial to protect your interests is necessary. We are aggressive and experienced trial attorneys and, if it comes down to it, we will fight for your rights at trial.Contact The Villages Golf Cart Accident Attorneys Today for a Free Case Assessment
If you or someone you love has been injured in a golf cart collision in The Villages or any of the surrounding areas, contact The Villages golf cart injury attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or by calling 352-369-5334 today. Consultations are always free and we do not collect fees unless we settle or win your case. Let our attorneys sort out the legal complexities associated with your claim, freeing up your time, energy and attention so that you can concentrate on working toward your own recovery.