Golf cart accidents are unfortunately all too common in Phoenix and in Arizona as a whole. Because golf carts can be driven on some roads, residents and tourists in the area often take them on joy rides; or they simply find that they are a convenient and cost-effective way to get around town.
As you could imagine, people in golf carts are not nearly as protected as people inside of cars. So if there is any type of accident, golf cart drivers and passengers can likely be very hurt. Riding around town or on the green in a golf cart always sounds like fun, but many people are probably unaware of how dangerous something like this really is if involved in an accident.
While single-vehicle golf cart accidents are common, accidents involving collisions with cars are rising. That was the case for a major accident in June of 2020. A golf cart was rear-ended by a car in nearby Scottsdale, which left all four people inside in serious condition.
Some people may think “street-legal” means “safe”
In order for a golf cart to be driven on public roads, it needs to meet some standard requirements. First, if you purchase one for pleasure, you need to register your golf cart to legally drive it. In Arizona, street-legal golf carts are treated very similarly to regular cars in that the regulations and requirements include things like:
- Driver’s license
- License plate
- Brake lights
- Turn signals
- Review mirror
In Phoenix, golf carts are actually allowed to be driven on public roads so long as the speed limit is below 35 mph as well. This is essentially for safety reasons since a golf cart that probably goes max 25 mph driving down a road with a 45 mph speed limit, for example, would be hazardous for themselves and other drivers. But even in lower-speed areas, accidents happen. And injuries can be way worse in a golf cart, especially if a car collides with it. Because cars are deemed “safe” methods of transportation, some people may also think that golf carts fall into that category as well because they drive at slower rates of speed and require all the same documents as a car. Unfortunately, this is just not the case.
What kind of injuries are common?
Because of the way golf carts are designed, they offer very little defense for its driver and passengers. There are no doors, airbags, or sometimes even seatbelts; so there is not much to protect the people inside of it if there is any type of collision. Some common injuries seen in golf cart accidents are:
- Traumatic brain injuries. If people fall out of the golf cart and onto asphalt, they likely can hit their head pretty hard. That was the case for a Pima County woman in her 60s when her golf cart presumably fell on its side, which caused a head injury that required hospitalization. A violent blow to head like this can result in a brain injury, or a concussion.
- Broken bones. With little attached safety equipment, passengers can easily be thrown out of the golf cart after hitting a bump. If they land the wrong way, this can cause a pretty serious bone fracture.
- If the golf cart stops abruptly or hits a stationary object, the necks of passengers can be forcefully thrown back and forth. Seatbelts can potentially help eliminate this risk since the golf carts operate at low speeds, but whiplash can still occur depending on the impact.
- Organ damage. Being struck by an oncoming car with no protection can cause golf cart passengers to sustain blunt trauma to some major organs.
- Internal bleeding. Blood vessels can burst after experiencing any type of blunt trauma, like colliding with another object.
- While likely the least severe of them all, passengers can experience major cuts and bruises after being involved in a Phoenix golf cart accident.
Golf cart injuries are worse for children
Avid golfers are not the only ones hitching rides on golf carts nowadays. Children are often found riding in the back as well. And when an accident happens, they are the ones taking the brunt of it. In fact, a recent study shows that between 2007 to 2017, over 156,000 people were treated in the emergency room for golf cart-related injuries. One of the most common injuries involving these vehicles is traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Children seemed to sustain a TBI three times more often than adults, and two times more often than seniors. Not only are brain injuries difficult to heal from, they can cause long-lasting effects in people, especially children.
How to prevent more Phoenix golf cart accidents
Until more people are aware of the risks and take all proper precautions, golf cart accidents will continue to happen at increased rates. Of course, accidents will always happen even with precautions taken. Nevertheless, it is important to try and eliminate as many preventable accidents as possible. When traveling in a golf cart, make sure to:
- Wear a seatbelt
- Drive sober
- Only fit as many people as there are seats
- Maintain a safe speed
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
- Operate it as you would a regular car
- Avoid driving on heavily-trafficked roads if possible
If you have been injured in a Phoenix golf cart accident, make sure to call the police to file a report and seek immediate medical assistance. If you were hit by a car while in a golf cart, avoid talking to the other driver’s insurance company as you could interfere with a lawsuit which may be settled in your favor. Be sure to contact a Phoenix golf cart accident attorney as soon as possible. At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we have lawyers with years of experience and knowledge that can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve from whoever may have caused your injuries. To schedule a free consultation at our Phoenix or Tempe offices, call us or fill out our contact form.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
Read more about Richard Plattner