The Grave Danger of Golf Carts

by Brooksie Bonvillain Boutet

In many neighborhoods of Greater Houston, it’s commonplace to see golf carts combing the streets alongside the standard array of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Some municipalities have laws on the books to regulate golf carts, but these laws don’t really help when someone gets hurt.

Golf carts pose a unique danger. They are open-sided vehicles—many without passenger restraints—yet operate on the same streets as motor vehicles with heightened safety regulations. Young, carefree, and often unlicensed operators get behind the wheel of a golf cart with little to no training or experience. What happens when someone on a golf cart gets hurt?

Approximately 150,000 golf cart injuries occur each year, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Some of the most common types of golf cart injuries we see at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law stem from golf cart ejections, which can result in traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures, and hematomas, among other injuries like road rash. These are clearly very serious injuries that can have lifelong effects both physically and cognitively. In the worst cases, golf cart incidents can be fatal.

When a golf cart injury occurs, the operator and the owner of the golf cart are potentially liable. Similar to a motor vehicle collision, the golf cart operator owes a duty to his or her passengers to operate the golf cart in a safe manner. If the operator breaches this duty—for example, by operating the golf cart too fast for the conditions—the injured party can make a claim against the golf cart operator. The golf cart owner also has responsibility when entrusting the golf cart to another operator. This may come into play when parents own a golf cart and allow their children to use the golf cart. If someone is hurt, then the injured party can make a claim against the golf cart owner for negligent entrustment of the golf cart.

There are different types of insurance coverage that may apply to a golf cart injury claim. Homeowners insurance, golf cart insurance, and auto insurance may cover the incident. Homeowners insurance has a personal liability component when someone is injured on the owner’s property. If the golf cart is garaged at a home, the coverage may also extend to incidents involving the golf cart outside of the four corners of the property. Some insurance companies offer specialized golf cart insurance to cover bodily injury—just like you would see under an auto insurance policy. It is also possible that a golf cart injury may be covered under an auto insurance policy.

With the severity of golf cart injuries and many potential avenues of recovery, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate a golf cart injury claim.