Golf carts are a convenient method of transportation on golf courses. They provide fast travel from hole to hole and are not unwieldy vehicles that are difficult to drive. However, at times, such vehicles can cause serious injuries to their drivers and passengers, either by tipping over, seriously malfunctioning, or getting in an accident due to the land or environment. When these problems occur, liability can be imposed on a number of parties, including the driver himself (if you are being chauffeured), the golf course operator, and potentially the manufacturer of the golf cart. You would be advised to pursue a golf cart accident lawsuit with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
GOLF COURSE LIABILITY – Are Country Clubs Responsible for my Injuries?
Are golf course operators liable for injuries sustained from the use or rental of a golf cart? Generally, the golf course owner or owner of the cart itself cannot be held liable when the driver of the golf cart caused the injury. However, liability can be imposed vicariously when an employee of the establishment caused the injury. Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, an employer can be held liable for the negligent actions of his employee. This means that an employee who was recklessly driving the cart and got into an accident can be held liable for his actions, but so can his employer.
– Golf Cart Rollover Accidents
Golf course operators or owners also owe a duty to the public to make sure the property or premises is maintained in a safe condition. They have a duty to inspect and warn of known dangers; in the case of an already-filed claim, an owner can still be held responsible if he should have been aware of the damages. These damages could have been identified through reasonable inspection. Golf courses have been held liable when they have paths that have been improperly paved. For example, if a poorly paved road allows a golf cart to spin out, tip over, or rush down a hill, the golf company can be held responsible for any injuries sustained the accident. A steep decline can be a problem for golf carts, as they are light enough that they won’t merely stop rolling near the edge of the road. A runaway golf cart poses additional problems: with gravity increasing the possible damage, the cart can tumble down the decline and eventually strike a crowd of people or other players.
Reasons for Golf Cart Accidents
- Improperly paved roads
- Golf cart manufacturing defects
- Improper maintenance of golf carts
- Failing to remove damaged trees
- Defective conditions on the golf course
Premises Liability/Golf Course Responsibility:
Owners of golf courses or golf club parks have a duty to their customers to warn of dangers which are known on the golf course. Owners and operators of such parks have been held liable for negligence when they fail to warn people about issues that can cause harm, such as exposed tree stumps; these stumps can cause golf carts to crash and overturn, resulting in broken bones and other injuries. Further, a golf course may fail to properly protect its customers by not ensuring the location is safe. For instance, it is possible that stray golf balls can enter a driving range and harm other golfers. However, this does not necessarily mean the golf course operator is liable; he may not have had any reason to know that that particular part of the park was frequented by customers. In such instances, the operator will likely not be considered liable.
PROPER MAINTENANCE OF GOLF CART
Golf carts are required to be properly maintained. When a patron rents a golf cart from the golf park, he is under the assumption that it is safe to drive and free from defects. While golf parks attempt to limit liability through waivers, many such waivers are found to be void thanks to public policies. Golf parks or country clubs that engage in the rental of golf carts are under a duty to make sure they are fit for their purpose. They are able to be held liable by both the user of the cart and any third party who is injured as a result of their failure to inspect the cart. Country clubs or golfing clubs are also responsible when they attempt to delegate the duty of maintaining golf carts to a third party who is not capable. Golf club operators are liable when they assign their duty to maintain golf carts to a person someone who is not qualified. For example, a caddy may be asked to inspect a golf cart to see if it is safe to drive; a caddy, however, is not a repairman or a mechanic. It is not in his job duties to make sure that golf carts are up to the standards of driving ability.Country clubs may ask servers, cashiers, desk workers, landscapers, and others to perform extra duties that are not in their job descriptions and for which they are not qualified. This practice can nearly guarantee liability on the behalf of the country club, as the person who inspected the carts was under no responsibility to determine their safety. His negligence can be wholly ignored.
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FAILURE TO WARN
Park operators can also be held liable for injuries when they fail to warn the user of the dangers associated with operating the golf cart. For example, not informing a user of how sensitive or hard to control the golf cart is can result in the cart flipping or tipping over, crushing the person inside. These vehicles are very small but they are not made of a soft substance, and accidents can lead to serious injury, especially if the cart lands on you. You may suffer broken legs, internal bleeding, broken ribs, organ damage, and various other problems.
– Defective Golf Cart Injury Attorney
Any failure to warn of the dangers involved with operating a golf cart can be used as grounds for liability in a personal injury lawsuit. However, in order to be successful on such a cause of action, it is necessary to show that with the instructions, the accident would not have occurred. This can be done by proving that no reasonable person would have known to inspect the golf cart for defects, or that using it in a certain manner would lead to injury. As stated before, the assumption with renting a golf cart is that it is safe to drive and does not require user examination.
WAIVERS AND THEIR LIMITS
Before a golf park or country club rents out a golf cart, they generally require the user to sign a waiver. These waivers often stipulate that compensation for damages is not possible if injury occurs. While the language can be different with each document, it is important to know that such waivers are void. When the waiver attempts to limit the defendant’s own negligence, it can be considered void on public policy grounds.
A manufacturer of a golf cart can be held liable when a defective product results in an injury. A manufacturer will be held liable regardless of whether the party was the owner or renter of the golf cart. For example, a prematurely detonating airbag, a leaky fuel line, or a flimsy roof can all cause serious injuries to users. If the golf cart has a defective design or design flaw, the lack of a warning for a known issue, or was not manufactured correctly, you are likely able to pursue damages against the company if you have been injured. A product liability claim can thus also be filed against the manufacturer of the golf cart in addition to the personal injury suit against the golf course operator.
A country club or golf course owes a duty to its guests and third parties. Thus, if there is an injury resulting from some type of negligence by the golf course, then the third party can be compensated for any injuries. You may have been struck by a wayward golf ball, had your foot run over by a golf cart and negligent driver, or had your car window smashed by a thrown club.
TYPES OF INJURIES
There are numerous injuries that can occur as the result of a golf cart accident. They include:
In such instances, proper medical treatment is required. Your attorney will most likely be able to get you the proper treatment on what is known as a “medical lien.” A medical lien allows you to seek treatment without paying any out of pocket expenses. However, after a settlement award, the costs of the treatments will be paid back to the physician, being taken out of the settlement.
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DOWNTOWN L.A. LAW GROUP
We are a team of litigators fighting for your rights. Our extensive knowledge of golf carts and the different theories of liability will help in getting you the best results. We have presided over personal injury and product liability claims for years, and we have a wealth of experience to draw from to make sure you are earning the fairest settlement possible. Contact us today for a free legal consultation on your case. One of our attorneys will be glad to talk with you about who is at fault, what kind of settlement you can expect, and how the legal process works. You will also learn about our zero fee guarantee, which promises that we will not collect any payment from you unless we win your case. You owe no out of pocket expenses while seeking legal representation. Call Downtown L.A. Law Group today for more information on filing a golf cart accident lawsuit.