Golf carts are popular modes of transportation throughout various areas in California. Most people understand that golf carts are not just for golf courses anymore. These vehicles are used in residential areas and in various workplaces regularly. Unfortunately, severe injuries can occur as a result of golf cart accidents.
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we are here to help if you need a California golf cart accident attorney by your side. We have extensive experience handling complex injury claims throughout this state, and we understand what it takes to investigate these incidents and help our clients recover maximum compensation for their losses. We are not afraid to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers, and we have no problem taking a case all the way to trial to ensure our clients are properly cared for.
Why Choose Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger?
- At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we have obtained significant multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts for injury clients throughout the state of California.
- For more than six decades, we have successfully represented injured people in both state and federal court, before arbitration hearing boards, and in mediation and settlement conferences.
- We focus on providing a client-centered approach to every case that we take. This means that we take time to listen to your goals and needs when you come through our door so we can formulate the best case strategy moving forward.
How Will an Attorney Help a California Golf Cart Accident Claim?
Golf cart accidents are not everyday occurrences, at least not for most individuals throughout Northern California. What we mean is that this is not something routine like calling your auto insurance carrier and filing a claim. There are multiple levels of complexity when it comes to golf cart accident claims, including who is actually liable for the incident.
A skilled golf cart accident lawyer in California will play a multifaceted role in these incidents. This will include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Conducting a complete investigation into the incident and gathering all evidence needed to prove liability.
- Ensuring their client is evaluated by a trusted medical professional who can treat their injuries.
- Working with economic and financial experts who can fully examine the situation and help properly calculate all economic and non-economic losses.
- Vigorously negotiating with aggressive insurance carriers to recover full compensation on behalf of the client.
How Old Do You Have to be to Operate a Golf Cart?
In order to legally operate a golf cart in California, a person has to be 13 years of age. However, there are various caveats to this age requirement. We do not suggest allowing your 13-year-old to simply take off in a golf cart on city streets. Golf cart laws vary from municipality to municipality, and most cities and counties place additional age and licensing requirements in order to operate a golf cart on the roadway. For example, some places only allow individuals to operate golf carts if they have a proper driver’s license, something that a 13-year-old will certainly not have. Additionally, most businesses, including golf facilities, only allow licensed drivers to operate golf carts.
However, private property owners can essentially do what they want when it comes to allowing individuals to operate golf carts. It is certainly possible to see a 13-year-old operating a golf cart on private property if the property owner is okay with that.
Can Golf Carts be Driven on Regular Streets?
As we discuss what California law says about golf carts and other low-speed vehicles, it is important to always remember that local ordinances may restrict anything that California law has in place. You need to check with your local county or city before making a decision about whether or not to purchase a golf cart or drive one on regular roadways.
In California, golf carts are indeed a common type of low-speed vehicle used in many neighborhoods. California law (CVC § 345) defines a golf cart as a “motor vehicle having not less than three wheels in contact with the ground, having an unladen weight less than 1,300 pounds, which is designed to be and is operated at not more than 15 miles per hour and designed to carry golf equipment and not more than two persons, including the drive.”
You are required to have a valid California driver’s license in order to operate a low-speed vehicle on the roadways in this state. Additionally, low-speed vehicles, including golf carts, must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles before operating the vehicle on a public roadway.
Individuals are not required to have a valid state driver’s license in order to operate a golf cart on private property. Additionally, any golf cart strictly operated on private property does not have to be registered with the California DMV.
Where are Golf Cart Accidents Happening in California?
Golf cart accidents that only happen at golf courses are a thing of the past. As we mentioned above, golf carts are in many areas throughout the state, perhaps even right in your neighborhood. It is not uncommon to see golf carts riding down residential streets, being used in workplaces throughout Northern California, and, of course, on golf courses.
Some of the most common areas where you may commonly encounter golf courses include the following:
- Golf courses
- Driving ranges
- Retirement communities
- Gated communities
- College campuses
- Train stations
- Residential roadways
The types of individuals using golf carts also vary. Often, these are regular individuals using golf carts as everyday transportation. However, various types of employees use these golf carts as well, including security personnel, maintenance personnel, and individuals who need to get from place to place on a larger worksite.
Most Common Types of Golf Cart Accidents
Golf cart accidents occur in a wide variety of ways. In some cases, these incidents are caused by the actual golf cart driver or passengers on board. However, the negligence of other drivers can also cause vehicle versus golf cart accidents. Some of the most common types of golf cart accidents that occur in Northern California include the following:
- Rollovers or tip-overs. Golf carts are very susceptible to rollover incidents. These vehicles do not have a great center of balance, and any type of sudden movement or turn could lead to a rollover that causes significant injuries to those on board.
- Ejections. Most golf carts do not have any doors or seat belts that can prevent ejection incidents in the event a collision rollover occurs. An ejection can lead to severe injuries for those involved.
- Crashes with other vehicles. Most passenger vehicles weigh several thousand pounds, much more than the average golf cart. When a vehicle collides with a golf cart, those riding on the golf cart are much more likely to sustain severe injuries than those inside a passenger vehicle.
- Crashing into an object. Crashing into a fixed object with a golf cart can lead to many of the same types of injuries as collisions involving other vehicles. Again, there are no seatbelts, metal frames, or bags that can protect golf cart riders.
- Injuries to limbs sticking out of a cart. Because there are no doors or windows on most golf carts, individuals can sustain severe injuries to their limbs if the limbs are sticking out of the vehicle.
Common Golf Cart Accident Injuries
Individuals involved in golf cart accidents can sustain a wide range of injuries. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our team has extensive experience helping clients who have sustained the following types of injuries:
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
- Other severe back or neck injury
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
- Crush injuries
- Significant scarring and disfigurement
In addition to these traumatic injuries, golf cart accidents can also lead to significant emotional and psychological trauma for those involved. Our attorneys work diligently to recover compensation for clients’ physical injuries as well as their emotional and psychological injuries caused by a golf cart accident.
Common Causes of California Golf Cart Accidents
Golf cart accidents occur in a wide variety of ways. As previously mentioned, these incidents can be caused by the negligence of a golf cart driver and passengers or the negligence of other drivers on the roadway. Some of the most common causes of golf cart accidents include:
- Alcohol impairment of the driver. Even though individuals are prohibited from drinking alcohol and operating a golf cart on residential roadways, there are often not strict regulations regarding operating these vehicles while drinking alcohol on private property or on golf courses. Impaired driving can lead to significant injuries.
- Allowing a minor to drive. Drivers who are too young to have a regular driver’s license are not going to be ideal golf cart operators.
- Sharp turns. Golf carts are susceptible to rollover or tip-over incidents in the event a sharp turn is conducted by the driver.
- No seatbelts. Most golf carts do not have seatbelts, and any collision could result in those involved being ejected.
- Aftermarket additions. Individuals spend lots of money to increase the appearance and performance of their golf carts. However, most aftermarket editions are not recommended by golf cart manufacturers, as they could impact safety.
- Other drivers’ negligence. Golf cart operators cannot control the negligent actions of other drivers around them, particularly on residential roadways. These accidents can occur in the same way that traditional vehicle versus vehicle crashes occur.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Golf Cart Accident?
There may be various parties who could be held liable for a golf cart accident. First and foremost, if a golf cart driver operates negligently or with reckless disregard for the safety of others, they could be held liable for any injuries caused to passengers or other individuals involved in an accident.
If a golf cart collision is caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver, then the other driver can be held responsible just like any other traditional vehicle versus vehicle collision.
For golf cart collisions that occur on private property or another area where individuals have the right to be, the property owner may be held liable for any injuries caused to other parties in the accident. Property owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of their premises, including the proper and safe operation of golf carts.
Individuals involved in the maintenance and repair of golf carts could be held liable if an improper repair leads to a vehicle accident. Additionally, if a golf cart is found to be defective, the cart’s manufacturer could be held responsible for any injuries caused by a crash.
Types of Compensation Available for These Cases?
There may be various types of compensation available to golf cart accident victims in Northern California. Our attorneys work diligently to recover both economic and non-economic compensation on behalf of our clients. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Full coverage of all medical expenses related to the incident
- Lost income if an injury victim cannot work while they recover
- Various household out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage expenses
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
Affording a Golf Cart Accident Attorney in California
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we take golf cart accident cases in California on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients do not have to worry about paying any upfront or out-of-pocket costs related to their case. Clients will not have to pay a dime in legal fees until after we successfully recover the compensation they need through a settlement or jury verdict.
Call a Golf Cart Attorney in California Today
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a golf cart accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or company in Northern California, reach out to the team at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for help as soon as possible. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling complex vehicle accident and injury claims, and we know what it takes to help clients recover maximum compensation for their losses. When you need a Northern California golf cart accident attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 415-899-2919.