Golf Cart Accident Lawyer
While golf carts have been used for decades on the many golf courses throughout the Carolinas, in cities like Charlotte and seaside Charleston, they have also become a prime method for getting around. They are great roadway vehicles for short distances and are also easy to take to the beach (perhaps with specialty tires). Because golf carts travel at relatively low speeds, many assume they are safe transportation methods, especially in areas without much car traffic.
Unfortunately, golf cart accidents happen, which can result in serious injuries when they do. Golf carts tend to flip when the driver takes a turn at high speeds, and passengers can be tossed out of the vehicle. You have legal options if you or a loved one has been injured in a golf cart accident in North or South Carolina.
Depending on the nature of the accident, a few different people can be held liable for your injuries. For instance, if you ride as a passenger in a golf cart and the driver makes an unsafe turn, causing you to fall from the vehicle, the driver may be held liable. In other cases, the cart manufacturer could be responsible for the injuries you sustained if the cart wasn’t designed properly.
At Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers, we have helped victims of golf cart accidents get the compensation they deserve for over 26 years. We know the ins and outs of these types of cases and what it takes to win. Speak with an experienced golf cart accident today for free by calling 828-222-7649 or by filling out our handy online contact form.
Why Do Golf Accidents Happen?
In 2015 alone, there were almost 18,000 golf cart accidents nationwide that required emergency hospital care. This may be a surprising statistic when you consider the fact that golf carts are designed to travel under 20 miles per hour. So why do so many accidents happen? The number one cause is inexperience.
Under North Carolina and South Carolina law, anyone operating a golf cart on a public road must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license. In addition, they must follow all traffic laws that apply to any vehicle on the road. They are only allowed to travel on roads on which the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less unless they are crossing a road with a higher speed limit. While these laws are enforced, many golf cart accidents happen on private property, such as in a gated community or golf course.
When inexperience isn’t an issue, alcohol may be a major contributing factor. It’s not uncommon to have a few drinks while you’re playing a round of golf. In addition, because golf carts travel at low speeds, it’s easy to think you can control the vehicle on public roads or near the beach after you’ve imbibed a bit. Whether on the fairway, roadway, or heading to the beach, operating a golf cart after drinking is incredibly dangerous — and illegal. Golf carts should be treated just like any other vehicle. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking or are otherwise impaired.
Finally, horseplay, “pranks,” and other inappropriate use lead to many golf cart injuries. There are thousands of YouTube videos that celebrate this kind of behavior, but in truth, it’s highly dangerous. When people are hit by golf carts, they can suffer crushed limbs, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other very serious injuries. Golf carts should always be used as they are intended, whether on the course or driving down the road.
Occasionally, we see accidents involving children becoming more common nationwide. One study found that between 2010 and 2019, there were over 63,500 kids hurt in golf cart incidents in the US. Just over half of those accidents involved kids 12 and younger. Most commonly, these injuries occur at schools or sporting events.
Golf carts aren’t particularly safe for kids. Unlike a car, they lack doors and windows, and it’s very easy for a small child to fall out. This can even happen if a parent holds the child on their lap and thinks they’re safe. There’s no place to install a car seat, so young children (under six years old) shouldn’t ride on the cart at all. We recommend keeping older kids off golf carts as much as possible too. But if you feel it’s necessary, the child should be placed in the middle of the seat, with adults on either side.
Another potentially dangerous situation is when a parent decides to let their child drive a golf cart. If that sounds like a bad idea, you’re right. Unfortunately, sometimes people think it’s okay because golf carts are slow, and they’re just driving on the green, so how much harm can the kid do?
The answer is a lot of harm. Even at low speeds, an accident where a golf cart hits a person or another cart can cause serious injuries – most commonly, broken bones. No one younger than 16 should drive a golf cart, even with an adult present. If you see someone’s child driving a cart, try to find their parents or alert the golf course staff so they can address the problem.
Some of the most common golf cart accidents include:
- Golf cart and automobile wrecks
- Multiple golf cart collisions
- Golf cart and pedestrian accidents
- Golf cart flips or rollovers
- Single golf cart accidents
If you’ve been the victim of one of these accidents because of someone else’s actions or behavior, our golf cart accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.
What If the Manufacturer Is at Fault?
Occasionally, a manufacturer’s defect may cause a golf cart accident. For instance, the cart’s battery may malfunction, the brakes could suddenly stop working, or the roof could become unattached. In these and other instances in which the manufacturer didn’t take proper care in the design or assembly of the vehicle, you may be able to hold them liable for your injuries.
North and South Carolina handle these kinds of cases very differently. Manufacturers are held under strict liability in South Carolina (and most other states). This means you can sue the manufacturer for defects that caused an injury. All you have to prove to seek compensation under strict liability law is:
- The golf cart was faulty when it left the factory or distributor;
- The cart was used properly; AND
- The defect in the vehicle caused your injuries.
However, North Carolina is one of the few states that doesn’t follow strict liability laws. Instead, you must show that the manufacturer acted negligently in the design or production of the golf cart in order to seek compensation. In order to establish negligence, you must prove that:
- The manufacturer had a duty of care to you (they have a duty of care to manufacture a golf cart that’s safe to use and sound in construction)
- They breached that duty of care (they didn’t design or produce the cart in a way that was safe for the end-user)
- The defective manufacturing caused your injuries (and not by your actions or the actions of someone else)
- You suffered real damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, and more)
In some instances where the golf cart malfunctions, it’s not the manufacturer who is at fault but the party responsible for the vehicle’s upkeep. For example, if a golf course offers cart rentals and doesn’t regularly maintain and repair their carts, they can be held liable if the vehicle malfunctions and causes injury. An experienced golf cart accident lawyer can evaluate your case and help you figure out who is liable for your injuries.
Does That Mean I Have To Sue My Golfing Buddy Or That Nice Person Who Rented Me The Cart?
No one wants to sue their friends. You also may not want to cause trouble for the small business owner who rented you a cart or was driving it when an accident happened. Fortunately, in most cases, we don’t have to sue anyone. The first thing we do after determining liability is make a claim for your damages with the responsible party’s insurance carrier. Most people and businesses have insurance that will cover golf cart accidents:
- Individuals are often covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy. This comes as a surprise to many people who have no idea just how much homeowner’s insurance covers. In addition to accidents in the home or on the owner’s property, most homeowner’s policies cover liability in situations ranging from small boat accidents to golf cart accidents. If the policyholder was driving the cart and hit you, there’s a good chance their insurance will cover it.
- Small businesses, especially those that rent out recreational vehicles, should have liability insurance if anyone is hurt on their property or while using their property. This includes companies that do maintenance or repair work on golf carts.
- Sometimes clients tell us that they don’t think they can ask for damages because they signed some sort of waiver when they rented the golf cart. However, these waivers don’t usually provide 100% protection from all liability. In some cases, the client still has grounds to seek compensation. If you’re unsure, request a copy of your waiver from the business and bring it to your golf cart accident lawyer.
You should also know that most cases don’t result in an actual lawsuit. We always try to negotiate with the insurance company to get a fair settlement for the client, and in many instances, we do. Often the insurance carrier may make some excuse why they won’t cover your claim, but we have the experience and knowledge of insurance laws to remind them of their obligations. In some situations where the client has a valid claim, but the insurer simply won’t budge, we usually sue the insurance company, not the insured party.
There are only a few situations where we consider suing a person or business directly, among other options. Please note that these are not common, and even when they do happen, a lawsuit may not make sense under the circumstances. Often there are better ways of seeking compensation.
- If the responsible party was uninsured or underinsured, or their policy specifically does not cover the type of accident you had, we will consider other ways to help you secure compensation.
- In some highly catastrophic cases, the available insurance coverage may have hit the policy limit while barely making a dent in the client’s damages. A lawsuit against the liable party may be an option to collect the rest.
Even in these situations, we often find that a lawsuit is not the best solution. If the responsible party does not have sufficient assets to pay the judgment if you win your case, it makes no sense for you to go through the time, expense, and strain of a lawsuit. We’ll tell you if pursuing a lawsuit is not in your best interest. However, in some cases, we may be able to identify other liable parties or insurance policies that could cover some of your damages.
Speak to a Golf Cart Accident Attorney Today
You have legal options if you have been injured in a golf cart accident. At Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers, we know just how dangerous these vehicles can be. We have recovered millions of dollars for our injured clients and can help you get the total compensation you deserve.
Don’t be deterred by the potential cost of hiring a golf cart accident attorney; you don’t owe us a dime unless we win your case. Call us at 828-222-7649 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.