Small towns all across America have seen an influx in golf carts on the roadways. With a top speed of 15 miles per hour, you don’t typically think of them being involved in serious accidents with injuries. However, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, there are approximately 15,000 golf cart related injuries requiring emergency room treatments in the U.S. each year. What happens if you are involved in an accident? Will you be covered?
Most Homeowners Insurance Policies either have special terms that are specifically tailored to golf cart use or allude to golf carts as “recreational vehicles.”
Coverage for the homeowner typically depends on where the accident occurs. Most Homeowners Insurance Policies do not cover golf cart accidents unless (a) the accident occurs on a golf course; or (b) the accident occurs at the homeowner’s home.
This means an accident that occurs when the insured is driving to a neighbor’s house, through a park, or to the neighborhood pool would probably not be covered by a Homeowners Insurance Policy. On the other hand, if, for example, the homeowner accidentally runs over his boss during his company’s annual golf outing, the homeowner would probably be covered.
If the homeowner’s child, parent, brother, sister, friend, etc. is responsible for the accident, they will usually be covered by the homeowner’s policy if (a) the accident occurs on a golf course or at the homeowner’s home; (b) the homeowner owns the golf cart; and (c) the child, parent, brother, sister, friend, etc. is using the golf cart with the homeowner’s permission.
Automobile insurers often claim that their policies do not provide coverage for golf carts. Generally, the policies limit coverage to vehicles that are designed to be used on public streets and highways. Most manufacturers of golf carts specifically instruct owners not to use the golf cart on a public road.
Because the average Homeowner’s Insurance Policy limits coverage to accidents that occur at the homeowner’s home and the average Automobile Insurance Policy excludes coverage for golf carts, golf cart accidents can pose a serious risk of personal loss if an accident occurs at a park, on a neighborhood street, or elsewhere.
In some instances, an automobile insurer may offer an addendum that provides coverage for golf carts. Insureds should be encouraged to speak to their insurance companies to determine if they have coverage and, if not, how they can get coverage.
Golf cart standards require accessible handholds and restraints that prevent the passengers from sliding to the outside of the vehicle. Most golf carts have semicircle bars that rise up from each side of the bench seat and are designed to serve as handholds and restraints from sliding out of the cart. These bars don’t provide enough restraint during a roll-over and wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of being ejected during certain situations.
Children represent a large portion of all ejection accident victims. Consumer Products Safety Commission statistics indicate that approximately 40% of all golf cart accidents involve children and 50% of these involve a fall from a moving cart. The easiest way to reduce this number is to require seatbelts for golf carts that are used on the roadways.
Seemingly harmless behavior could result in an accident. The Consumer Products Safety Commission statistics tell us that golf cart accidents can result in serious injuries—including death. If you own and operate a golf cart, we urge you use caution on the roadways and be responsible when behind the wheel. When the cart is stopped, make sure the brake is in the locked position. If kids are operating the cart, make sure they’re aware of the dangers.
Our personal injury attorneys have handled several cases involving injuries due to golf cart accidents. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to a golf cart accident, contact one of our personal injury attorneys to discuss your situation and evaluate your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.