Who Is Responsible for an Accident Injury on a Rental Golf Cart?
In Florida who is responsible for an accident that causes injury while on a rented golf cart? That depends upon several factors. First, was there a malfunction with the rented golf cart? Did the brakes on the golf cart fail? The brake lights? Was there a steering malfunction on the golf cart? Seat belt malfunction? Second, did the driver of the golf cart make a mistake which lead to a golf cart crash, an ejection of a passenger from the golf cart, or a rollover of the golf cart that caused injuries? Did the driver of the golf cart cause a collision with another golf cart, automobile or stationary object? Third, did the operator of a vehicle cause a collision with the golf cart which resulted in injuries?
Certainly in the case of a golf cart malfunction the law of Florida is that the manufacturer of the golf cart may be liable for injuries arising from a golf cart malfunction. But the owner of a golf cart that malfunctions can also be held responsible for a golf cart that malfunctions and causes injury to its passengers. When golf cart injuries arise as a result of the mistake of the driver of the golf cart or because of the mistake of the driver of an automobile, the law in Florida can hold either of those drivers at fault. (More about this below.)
Next we have to look at the location of where the golf cart accident occurred.
Accident on Golf Course With a Golf Cart Caused Injury
In all of those three examples above — golf cart malfunction, golf cart driver error, or mistake by another driver — where the golf cart accident occurs makes a difference in how the case for golf cart injury should proceed. If a malfunctioning golf-course-owned golf cart causes injury, then the golf course can be responsible for the injuries, and still the manufacturer might be responsible as well if there was a manufacturer’s defect in the golf cart that contributed to the accident. Where a golf cart crash, rollover or ejection is caused by the driver of the golf cart, then the injured passenger would pursue the driver. But also, under Florida law, the injured passenger can pursue the golf cart owner even when a renter of the golf cart caused the golf cart injury accident. (More about that below.)
Accident on Rented Golf Cart in the City
In addition to e-scooters, Segways, and bike rentals, golf cart rentals are popping up in Florida cities in their downtown areas. In the State of Florida that means the golf carts — technically known as LSVs (“Low Speed Vehicles”) — must be street legal. They must have headlights, brake lights, turn signals, a windshield, seatbelts, etc. Also, these street-legal golf carts, these LSVs, can travel no faster than 25 mph under Florida Statute 320.01(41). They are permitted to travel on roads designated by Florida cities and municipalities as golf cart accessible, so they cannot travel on just any road — it must be designated as an approved golf cart road. (And no, the golf cart certainly cannot be driven alongside Interstate-95. (Miami Herald, 8/3/22 “Woman arrested after she drove a golf cart on Interstate 95 in southern Brevard County“.) The State of Florida imposes the further restriction that those roads designated by cities for golf cart travel can not have a speed limit above 35 mph.
Rental golf carts place the renters on the same streets being used by automobiles, trucks, and commercial vehicles. Even with seatbelts and brake lights and so forth, golf carts are no match for regular or commercial vehicular traffic. Injuries arising between golf carts are bad enough but golf carts-versus-vehicle crashes regularly produce severe injuries or death to golf cart passengers. And one should give consideration to how many automobile rear-ender auto crashes there are arising from automobile driver inattention; then consider that a rental golf cart does not have the structure or safety features of a vehicle to protect its passengers from severe injury with automobiles. Our prediction at www.GolfCartAttorney.com is that the number of golf cart passenger injuries arising from golf cart rentals will continue to rise as golf cart rentals in downtown areas mix with vehicular traffic and become more prevalent.
Golf cart renters would also be wise to read closely the “paperwork” golf cart rental companies will have the renter — and very likely all of the passengers — sign before they decide to take the rental golf cart into downtown traffic. Undoubtedly, such a waiver will try to have the renter agree to waive any and all negligence of the golf cart rental company and waive all claims for the negligence of the golf cart driver. While Florida law was once a bit favorable to injured claimants who had signed “waivers”, more recently the Florida Supreme Court decided the case of Sanislo v. Give Kids the World, Inc., 157 So. 3d 256, (Fla: Sup. Ct. 2015) and made clear that one should not bank on getting out from under a waiver in the event of a rented golf cart injury case. Yes, there are legal arguments to be made against waivers. That is why you should go with a law firm who has experience like us at www.GolfCartAttorney.com that has handled golf cart injury cases.
One final point here is that the State of Florida classifies golf carts as “dangerous instrumentalities”. What this means is that the owner of the golf cart has liability for the negligent actions of the operator. In effect, this means that if the operator of the golf cart is the 14 year-old neighbor kid with no money or insurance, you can still pursue the owner of the golf cart for the negligence of the kid. The same legal principle of “dangerous instrumentality” can be applied on golf courses where course-owned golf carts are being used. A claim against the user of the golf cart that causes injuries can also be brought against the golf cart owner, the golf course.
At www.GolfCartAttorney.com we know the specific laws that relate to golf carts and low speed vehicles. You need an attorney who knows the laws and the applicability of insurance policies to golf cart accidents. We recently took on a golf cart accident case after an auto-accident law firm dropped the case. We forced the insurer to pay the maximum insurance policy limits of $100,000.00. It pays to go with attorneys who handle and have handled golf cart injury cases.
If you have been injured as a result of a golf cart crash, collision with another golf cart or vehicle, a golf cart rollover, or a golf cart ejection give us a call. You should not delay, because evidence can quickly begin to disappear.
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