Children are at High-Risk for Serious Injuries on Golf Carts

By Peter DePaolis

You would not think they are a high-risk by looking at them, but golf carts have been creeping up in the charts when it comes to severe injuries to children. In fact, golf cart accidents with children lead to more serious injuries than originally thought.

Children as young as nine in one study were driving the golf cart, not wearing a seatbelt, and with the high risk of these vehicles turning over, you can see how the injuries are severe.

Parents and society have an inaccurate safety view when it comes to vehicles like golf-carts or even go-karts. They assume that they are non-automobiles; therefore, they are safer. Children can drive golf carts because parents believe that with the slower speeds there is minimal risk.

The study, however, paints a different picture. Out of the 150,000 accidents between 1990 and 2006, a third of those accidents involved children under 16 years. Between 2008 and 20106, 40 children were treated with injuries from golf cart accidents, and 85 percent were between the ages of 5 and 14.

From those injuries, researchers found that more than half were moderate to severe, and the older children suffered from head and neck injuries. A quarter of those children spent time in intensive care to recover from the accident. The most common cause of serious injury was being thrown from the cart.

Also, out of the 40 injury cases, only one child was wearing a seat belt – further proving that seat belts even on a golf cart can prevent injuries.

What Parents Should Know About Golf Carts in Washington, DC, Maryland, and VA

Before allowing your child to drive a golf cart, you should be aware of the risks and reconsider allowing anyone without a valid driver’s license to operate one.

What Causes Golf Cart Accidents?

Golf carts are used for more than just getting around the green at a golf course. In fact, private communities use them, homeowners use them in neighborhoods and around their property, and college campuses are notorious for having a few on the grounds.

Children as young as 16 can legally drive a golf cart and other neighborhood electric vehicles, but children are also the highest risk for injury in these vehicle accidents. In fact, fatalities can occur from a golf cart accident.

Just some of the common causes of golf cart incidents include:

  • Taking turns too sharply. One of the most common reasons for accidents involving a golf cart is when one tips over because the operator took a turn too sharply. Golf carts are lighter weight and top-heavy; therefore, they can easily tip over when even a seemingly normal turn is taken too fast or sharp.
  • Distracted drivers. Distracted driving is a problem for golf carts. People will assume that because they are operating at lower speeds, they can text or talk on the phone. By being inattentive, they can pull in front of a motor vehicle, hit a curb, or strike a fixed object.
  • Inattentive drivers are sharing the road. Drivers do not pay much attention to golf carts; therefore, they may not look for them when passing through an intersection in a neighborhood.
  • Racing or horsing around on a golf cart. Another common cause of these accidents involves racing or playing on a golf cart, such as trying to tap one another’s carts, using high speeds on slick roads, and other acts.
  • Too many passengers in the cart. Golf carts have strict weight limitations. These weight limitations are what ensure that it does not tip over, but also so the vehicle can stop. When a golf cart is overweight, it is at high risk for braking complications, and if the operator takes a turn too quickly, the cart is more likely to tip over.
  • Operating while under the influence. Just like driving a vehicle, operating a golf cart while under the influence significantly decreases your ability to react; thus, putting you at higher risk for an accident.

Who is Liable for a Golf Cart Accident?

Determining liability in these types of cases requires an overview of the factors that influence responsibility. Golf carts do not need special training or even a license. They are also used on private property and maintained by those who own them or someone that does not even drive it. Therefore, you must consider the following factors when trying to decipher who could be at fault:

  • Who Was Driving? The most significant factor is the operator. In most cases, these accidents occur out of operator error or recklessness. Therefore, if you are a passenger in a golf cart accident, the driver may be at fault for your injuries. If the driver were a child or teen, then the parent that allowed them to drive would possibly be at fault.
  • Who Owns or Maintains the Golf Cart? The next question is the owner or person responsible for maintenance on the cart. If a malfunction in the cart is what caused the accident, such as brakes that failed to engage, then responsibility could fall on the owner for failing to repair or maintain it, or the person who performed maintenance and did either shoddy work or did not correct a known issue.
  • Were You Warned of the Risks? If you are using a cart owned by a golf course, they must advise you on how to use it, the safety equipment, and the dangers of using that cart. If they fail to do so, then they could be liable for a failure to warn.
  • Who Owns the Property? Sometimes it has nothing to do with the driver or the cart; instead, it is the property. Hazards on the property that the owner knew about but failed to correct could make that property owner liable for your injuries. For example, a golf course that has potholes on a golf cart pathway and those holes cause a severe accident.

Do You Need an Attorney for Golf Cart Accidents?

Golf carts are open, and sometimes have no top to them, which means a rollover collision could cause serious injuries. Therefore, you should consult an attorney if you have been involved in a golf cart accident and you suspect that someone is at fault for your injuries.

The attorneys at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP can help you with your injury case. Contact us now at one of our three locations or by contacting a team member online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.