Fall is here, and that means our winter residents, fondly called "snowbirds,” will be rolling back in for the season. Many of our older Florida residents enjoy the simplicity of life in communities where much of their travel can be done via walking, or even better, by golf cart. Golf carts are iconic here in Florida. From enjoying a leisurely drive through an actual golf course enjoying the sunshine, to motoring around your town…golf carts are a great means of casual transportation when you don’t have far to go and enjoy a slower pace. Because of their recreational nature though, and assumed lack of risk, many people don’t consider accidents (and resulting liability) when it comes to golf carts. If someone gets injured, who is at fault and what kind of case would be on the table for both parties?
Here are a few facts to consider if you're planning a golf cart purchase, or if you’ve been injured in an accident related to one of these vehicles and are wondering what to do next:
- The legal limit still matters. Law requires that the driver of a golf cart must be at least 14 years of age. If you were injured while someone younger was behind the wheel, the parents of the child at fault could be held liable for your damages and/or injuries. While it might seem fun to let kids drive these "harmless" vehicles, doing so at the wrong place (like public areas or on streets) is dangerous and irresponsible.
- Maintenance is important. While the requirements for a golf cart are pretty lenient, they must have a functioning brake system, steering system, and good tires. Keeping your golf cart in good shape makes sure it runs well and won’t fail on you when it matters most. For example, brakes going out when you are crossing a street or going downhill could be dangerous for you, your passengers, pedestrians, and for other drivers. Keeping up with maintenance on any vehicle matters a lot in protecting yourself and others.
- “Don’t Drink and Drive” is the rule behind ANY wheel. For some reason golf carts are not seen as a full "vehicle" by many people. After a long day at the beach, or a full afternoon at the golf course with buddies, a driver will easily climb behind the wheel of a golf cart after too much to drink. If you’re too inebriated to drive a regular car, you’re not sober enough to drive a golf cart. The rules don’t change based on the vehicle. If you’re drunk and behind the wheel, you’re liable for damages and/or injuries that occur because of that choice.
Jiles Law, P.A. is thrilled to see our winter residents returning to the Winter Haven area, and we look forward to catching up with you around town, or if you stop by the office for a question, an appointment, or just to say hello. We hope you enjoy a fun, relaxing, and safe season back in your favorite state!