Key Points:

  • Golf carts can be dangerous to drive or ride under some circumstances, even though they operate at slow speeds.
  • Injuries and damages resulting from golf cart accidents may not be covered by auto or homeowners insurance policies, leaving victims to face crippling expenses without help.
  • If you are injured in an accident with a golf cart, your rights are likely in question, but an experienced attorney can help.                                                                                                                                                                   

Golf Cart Accidents Can Severely Injure Drivers or Passengers

While originally intended to carry golfers and clubs around the rolling hills of golf courses, golf carts have now become popular multi-purpose vehicles. Today, golf carts are used in warehouses, on college campuses, and even on highways and streets to transport people and small equipment.

However, these vehicles were never designed to provide the protection necessary in the world outside the country club. To make matters worse, there is little regulation in Georgia law regarding where golf carts and low-speed vehicles (LSVs) may be driven. This lack of regulation can and has led to serious accidents and injuries.

Who Can Legally Drive a Golf Cart?

In Georgia, golf cart drivers are not required to have a driver’s license. In fact, even children 12 years or older are permitted to drive golf carts on some public streets if accompanied by a licensed adult driver. (Be aware. When a non-licensed driver operates a golf cart and is accompanied by a licensed driver, the licensed driver is the responsible, liable party in the event of an accident.)

This lack of regulation means the “rules of the road” are not always understood by those behind the wheel, making golf cart accidents more common.

Are Golf Carts Outfitted for Safety?

A Georgia municipality may pass an ordinance allowing golf carts to be used on public streets. These golf carts must meet some basic safety requirements, including:

  • Breaks to handle the total weight of passengers
  • A “reverse warning” sound device
  • Tail lights
  • A horn and restraints for hips
  • Weight of fewer than 1,300 pounds
  • Must not be able to travel over 20 mph
  • Windshield, working turn indicators, and braking tail and headlights if operated between sunset and sunrise

Golf carts must yield right of way to all non-golf-cart-using parties (pedestrians and bicycles).

Common Reasons for Golf Cart Accidents

Golf cart accidents can happen for countless reasons.

Because golf carts are designed to operate on the smooth, rolling hills of golf courses, they are not always prepared for uneven surfaces. For instance, when used off-street on unpaved or uneven surfaces, golf carts can tip or roll over easily. On the streets, potholes, uneven roadways, and other hazards can cause the relatively lightweight and unstable vehicle to tip.

In addition, inexperienced drivers have been known to accidentally drive into lakes, streams, or other water hazards, which can present drowning risks. Passengers can be ejected from the cart and crushed beneath it or be thrown into the path of oncoming vehicles, sometimes leading to fatalities.

Even when golf carts are used on the job as a handy way to get around a large warehouse, airport, arena, or campus, they can still present dangers for drivers and pedestrians alike.  

Common causes of golf cart accidents include: 

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Taking sharp turns at high speeds, flipping the golf cart
  • Overloading the golf cart with passengers
  • Distracted driving
  • Muddy, wet, or uneven ground, especially when at high speeds
  • Reversing downhill
  • Hanging limbs outside of the vehicle
  • Not putting on the brake when exiting the vehicle

Common golf car injuries include: 

  • Broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Knee and shoulder injuries
  • Neck and face injuries
  • Bruising
  • Death

How Liability Insurance Coverage Works for Golf Cart Accidents

In Georgia, a golf cart must be registered in the state and include liability insurance coverage for property damage and personal injury. While owners and passengers may assume carts are insured by the owner’s homeowner’s or auto insurance, golf cart liability insurance is typically not included in either.

Some insurance companies will allow you to add your cart to your homeowner’s insurance; however, this coverage won’t happen automatically. In other words, golf car accidents can leave you uninsured and liable for all damages and injuries unless you purchase a special policy.

Some auto insurance may cover golf carts under the same category as motorcycle or scooter coverage. However, it’s important to remember that insurance policies typically have “fine print” that details exclusions – meaning those incidents and events may not be covered.

If you own or use a golf cart, you should pay close attention to these exclusions to ensure they won’t leave you without coverage.

The Cost of Golf Cart Insurance

If you must get a policy for golf cart insurance, the cost will depend upon several factors. Because golf carts are primarily driven away from streets and highways and travel at low speeds, insurance companies may not consider them a major risk. As a result, policy costs may be less expensive than other car or vehicle coverage.

However, you should always consult with your insurance agent about the recommended coverage based on where and how you intend to use the golf cart.

Golf Cart Accidents on Private Property

When a golf cart accident happens on non-public land, meaning a privately owned residential or commercial property, the liability may fall upon the property owner. In some cases, this means the property owner’s liability insurance may pay for damages.

For instance, if you visit a neighbor’s home and get injured in an accident involving their golf cart, that neighbor may be responsible for paying for your injuries.

What If the Golf Cart Is Owned by a Company?

Golf carts have become an important part of business operations for some companies as they provide an efficient way for employees to move around large facilities.

Employers who choose to provide golf carts to navigate on a work site are responsible for your safety and training. The company is also responsible for ensuring the equipment is properly maintained and used safely and appropriately. If the employer fails to meet these responsibilities, it could be liable for damages if an accident occurs.

Accidents Between Golf Carts and Other Motor Vehicles

As with any other accidents, where a golf cart accident happened will determine how and by whom it is handled. If the collision takes place on a public street or roadway, it will be up to law enforcement to establish fault. Once it is determined how and why an accident happened, the matter of liability will proceed as it would in any other traffic accident.

In Georgia, the rule known as modified comparative fault is used to determine who is liable in a personal injury accident. Under the comparative negligence rule, a person injured in an accident can receive monetary damages if the court or jury finds that the injured person was no more than 49% at fault for the accident.

What Is Compensated for a Golf Cart Accident in Georgia

When settling a personal injury claim, the following damages may be compensated:

  • Medical costs, including ambulance ride, surgical procedures, hospital stays, and follow-up care such as physical therapy or prosthetic equipment
  • Lost wages, which is any loss of income due to accidental injuries, including income lost due to recovery, doctor’s appointments, or necessary physical therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Damages to personal property

Before you settle a personal injury claim, it’s always a good idea to take the time to consult with an attorney who understands the law. Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation to help you understand your rights and protect you in these matters.