The fantastic weather in Florida makes it a perfect state for golf carts and low speed vehicles (LSV). If you’ve driven around places like the Villages or Nocatee or any other golf cart friendly community, you may have noticed golf carts driving around on the roads. In fact, you may have noticed more golf carts driving around than automobiles. This is a trend that is likely to continue because more Florida subdivisions and communities are becoming golf cart friendly with each passing year.
With the increasing number of golf carts on the roads, there is no doubt that golf cart accidents will likely continue to rise. According to the Sun Sentinel, there are around 13,000 serious golf cart accidents each year. Moreover, golf cart accidents may be disproportionately affecting teens and children, as this demographic is eager to drive and can legally operate a golf cart before an automobile.
Golf carts simply do not have the same safety features that a modern automobile has. As a result, people in golf cart accidents tend to suffer a wide range of injuries, including cuts, bruises, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and worse. In fact, many golf cart accidents are just as serious as a car accident or truck accident. According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were an estimated 156,040 golf cart-related injuries that required emergency room treatment in the decade spanning from 2007 to 2017.
If you’ve been in a golf cart accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain, suffering, and more. Also, there may be insurance coverage available to you. Don’t hesitate to call us at (321) 352-7588 for a free consultation with an Orlando golf cart accident lawyer. Now, let’s talk a bit more about golf cart accidents.
The Classification of the Golf Cart Matters: Low Speed Vehicles vs. Golf Carts in Florida
The insurance coverage and liability issues in a golf cart accident can depend upon whether the golf cart qualifies as a “low speed vehicle” or LSV in Florida. Below, we’re going to talk more about the key differences between a LSV and a golf cart under Florida law.
What is a Low Speed Vehicle in Florida?
Under Florida law, a low speed vehicle is any vehicle with 4 wheels that can go more than 20 miles per hour, but no more than 25 miles per hour. Florida law requires that low speed vehicles be registered, titled, and insured, just like any other motor vehicle. Additionally, anyone driving a low speed vehicle in Florida must have a valid driver license on his or her person.
Florida allows people to drive a low speed vehicle on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. Additionally, a low speed vehicle must have a lot of the same safety equipment and safety gear as an automobile, including the following:
- Front and rear turn signals;
- Stop lights;
- Tail lights;
- Red reflectors on both sides and on the rear of the golf cart;
- Driver side mirror and a rear-view mirror or exterior mirror on the passenger side;
- Parking brake;
- Seat belt for each seat; and
- A vehicle identification number (VIN).
In addition to all of the safety equipment and safety gear requirements listed above, anyone seeking to register a low speed vehicle in Florida must pay the applicable fees and provide the following information:
- The golf cart or LSV manufacturer’s certificate of origin;
- Application for Florida title or HSMV 82040;
- Proof of Florida insurance (minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability); and
- Identification (driver’s license, passport, etc…).
What is a Golf Cart Under Florida Law?
Under Florida law, a golf cart is a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured to be used on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and is not capable of going faster than 20 miles per hour. In Florida, golf carts may be operated on streets specifically designated for golf carts and that have a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less. Golf carts, unlike low speed vehicles, are not required to be insured with personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) coverage. Many people, however, choose to purchase golf cart insurance.
Converting a Golf Cart to a Low Speed Vehicle in Florida
In Florida, a golf cart may be converted into a low speed vehicle if it meets the equipment requirements listed above, with headlights, mirrors, and the works. This is important because you may be involved in a Florida golf cart accident and have access to various types of insurance coverage that you may not have access to if the vehicle were just a golf cart.
Is There Any Insurance Coverage Available in a Florida Golf Cart Accident?
As we’ve talked about, certain types of insurance, including PIP and PDL, are required coverage for drivers of low speed vehicles in Florida. Although insurance is required for low speed vehicles in Florida, such coverage is not required for golf carts. Nevertheless, many people choose to purchase liability insurance for their golf carts.
Low Speed Vehicle Insurance in Florida
Anyone registering a low speed vehicle in Florida must provide proof of Florida insurance. Just as with any vehicle, the registered owner of the low speed vehicle must carry $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP), as well as $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL). This is the minimum coverage required under Florida law, and thus a golf cart driver may also carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage and bodily injury coverage. If you’re injured in a golf cart accident, these various types of coverage could save you thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Golf Cart Insurance in Florida
In Florida, golf carts are exempt from the low speed vehicle registration and titling requirements. Thus, golf cart owners are not required to carry PIP or PDL insurance if the golf cart is not a low speed vehicle. However, this does not prevent the golf cart owner from obtaining liability insurance on a golf cart, including medical payments coverage and bodily injury coverage. The important difference is that the liability insurance coverage is not required by Florida law for a golf cart.
Why Are Golf Cart Accidents So Dangerous?
Golf carts traditionally lack important safety features that most modern automobiles have. Although some golf carts have seat belts, door, mirrors, and lights, golf carts are simply not designed for impact or crashes. Additionally, golf carts can easily roll over when turned at higher speeds. The truth is that there have been few meaningful changes in golf cart design over the years to increase safety. The golf carts today are not very different from golf carts in the 1970s and 1980s.
Florida Traffic Laws and Golf Cart Accidents
Golf cart drivers and automobile drivers are supposed to obey Florida’s traffic laws. However, as we all know, golf cart drivers don’t always follow traffic laws, just like lots of automobile drivers don’t follow traffic laws. If a golf cart driver or automobile driver broke Florida traffic laws and caused you to suffer an injury, that could be a helpful fact in your golf cart accident case. Similarly, if you broke Florida traffic laws, that could hurt your golf cart accident case. The point is this: Florida traffic laws and whether a golf cart driver or automobile driver broke them can be highly relevant in a golf cart accident case. Below are some of the more common ways drivers break Florida traffic laws.
Driving a Golf Cart While Intoxicated
Believe it or not, a golf cart driver can face arrest for driving a golf cart while under the influence. A golf cart is a “vehicle” under Florida law. Florida Statute Section 316.003(106) defines a “vehicle” as “[e]very device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except personal delivery devices, mobile carriers, and devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” Importantly, this definition can apply to golf carts.
Even though golf cart drivers are not supposed to drive while intoxicated, we know it happens. People do not take driving a golf cart while intoxicated as seriously as they would if they were driving an automobile. You can see this play out on golf cart videos on Instagram and other social media sites. People think it’s funny to drive drunk in a golf cart, that is, until someone gets seriously injured.
Additionally, in the areas where golf carts are prevalent, there may be a lot of intoxicated people. When these people decide to go home, they may get into an automobile, drive drunk, and hit a golf cart driver. When an automobile collides with a golf cart, the golf cart driver can be seriously or fatally injured because, as we have discussed, golf carts are not designed to handle impacts with automobiles.
Failure to Yield to Other Vehicles
Drivers are more distracted today than ever before. With all the electronic devices at our fingertips, it’s easy to get distracted while driving. However, in areas where golf carts are prevalent, distracted driving can be deadly. If an automobile driver fails to see a golf cart on the road and smashes into it, the people in the golf cart will be lucky to walk away from the accident without serious injuries.
Golf cart drivers may also break the rules of the road. Some golf cart drivers operate their golf carts as if the rules of the road don’t apply to them. Maybe it’s because a golf cart is not typically thought of as a full-fledged automobile. However, that’s just speculation. Regardless of the reason, golf cart drivers often fail to yield the right of way to other cart drivers or automobile drivers. This type of risky driving is a major cause of golf cart accidents.
Running a Stop Sign
Many golf cart paths and golf cart trails have stop signs when the path crosses a roadway. Additionally, the road should have some indication that golf carts may be crossing the road and will often have a stop sign or yield sign to stop or slow automobile drivers as they approach the golf cart crossing. However, drivers may get distracted and fail to notice a golf cart crossing. By the time they realize they’re at a golf cart crossing, it may be too late. This is a major cause of golf cart accidents in Florida.
It’s not just the automobiles that mess this one up. Golf cart drivers are also supposed to respect the stop signs on the trails and paths, in addition to the stop signs posted on any street where the golf cart driver operates the golf cart. Nevertheless, many golf cart drivers fail to respect these signs, which causes a lot of golf cart accidents every year in Florida.
Golf Cart Accidents Among Children and Teens in Florida
Golf cart accidents seem to be particularly prevalent and dangerous for people under the age of 21. According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were roughly 63,503 golf cart-related injuries from 2010 to 2019 involving folks under the age of 21. Data also shows that the number of golf cart-related injuries per year for people under 21 has steadily increased from 5,490 in 2010 to more than 6,500 per year in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Golf cart accidents tend to result in more serious brain injuries among young people than in adults. According to the research, around 1.6 out of every 100,000 young people who were injured in a golf cart accident sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For adults, that number is 0.5 people per 100,000. Therefore, children and teens are up to three times as likely as adults to suffer a traumatic brain injury or a concussion as a result of a golf cart accident.
Get Your FREE Consultation with an Orlando Golf Cart Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a Florida golf cart accident, you should speak with a skilled and aggressive Florida golf cart accident lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. You can contact us online or you can call our Orlando, Florida law office at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your consultation.
If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, if you’ve been injured in the Southeast, we may be able to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
For more information on personal injury cases, you can download our free personal injury guide: P.I. 101: Your Quick Guide to Personal Injury Claims.