Street Legal Golf Carts: Who Is Responsible for Accidents?

Golf carts are becoming an increasingly common form of transportation in many South Florida communities. Many are looking for a ‘green’ way to get around their neighborhoods or run an errand. Not only are residents of South Florida driving them, but they also are an increasingly common form of transport for the area’s many tourists. Under Florida law, operation of a golf cart on the state’s public roads or streets is legal where a county or municipality has designated the road(s) for use by golf carts. However, Florida law restricts golf carts to roads with speed limits 35 mph or less. Florida law also requires that golf carts must be equipped with efficient brakes, a reliable steering apparatus, safe tires, a rearview mirror and red reflectors in the front and back to be operated between sunrise and sunset.

In addition, Florida municipalities and counties are permitted by Sections 316.212 and 2126, Florida Statutes, to require that golf carts have additional safety accessories over and above those already required by Florida law in order to be operated on that municipality or county’s roads. Many South Florida towns and municipalities have taken this step and are passing, or have passed, ordinances and local laws that permit the use of golf carts on some or all city streets. For instance, the Village of Key Biscayne just south of downtown Miami permits golf carts on virtually any street but requires that golf carts be equipped with a windshield and headlights if operated between sunset and sunrise.

Even for those who do not own their own golf carts, golf cart rental companies are springing up to cater to the many tourists who visit South Florida each year and are increasingly taking advantage of this new transportation option. However, this mania for golf carts can have serious consequences, as golf cart operators are now sharing the road with motor vehicles and vice versa. Both must abide by the laws for driving a motor vehicle.

Duties of Motorists in Golf Carts Where Golf Carts are Permitted on the Roads

A golf cart driver who operates a golf cart on Florida roads even where doing so is legal is still responsible for following all applicable traffic laws while doing so. If the golf cart operator fails to adhere to applicable traffic laws, then he or she can be held liable both criminally and civilly for doing so. Florida’s many tourists often are unaware of the fact they too are subject to both state and local laws when operating golf carts. This is particularly true for many international tourists, who may be not used to driving motor vehicles in areas where traffic laws are not as strictly enforced as in the United States. For example, if a golf cart operator is operating his or her vehicle negligently and causes an accident with a car that injured the car’s occupants, the golf cart operator can be ticketed as well as charged with any criminal offenses which would apply to his or her actions. In addition, the golf cart operator also could be sued by the injured parties for their injuries and any damages associated with those injuries. So, if a driver were operating a golf cart in the Village of Key Biscayne without a windshield and headlights after dark and caused an accident with a pedestrian and the pedestrian was injured, that golf cart driver could be ticketed and/or criminally prosecuted and also sued by the injured pedestrian for his or her injuries.

Who is Responsible if a Motorist in a Golf Cart Causes an Accident?    

As in the event of an accident between two cars, the driver of a golf cart can be held legally responsible if he or she causes an accident on a city street that injuries someone else. The victims in such an accident would be entitled to the same damages as those injured in a more typical car accident. Therefore, a victim injured in a golf cart accident in Florida can recover damages for expenses related to medical treatment for his or her injuries, any lost income (both past and future) the victim suffered as a result of the accident, and any other financial losses the victim suffered. This also includes any pain and suffering, both past and future, the victim may have experienced.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley if you Have Been Injured in An Accident with a Golf Cart

If you are a motorist or pedestrian who has been injured in a golf cart accident in an area where driving golf carts is legal due to the negligence of a golf cart operator, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley, P.A. today at (877) 694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have over 150 combined years of legal experience; Contact us today for a free consultation.

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