Golf course construction is exploding in Florida with the development of more and more retirement communities and resort locations. There are over 120,000 people currently living in The Villages retirement community for whom golf is their major activity. But there are many other retirement communities being developed by Del Webb, Sun City Center and others around Florida.
Golf carts have become such a common part of playing the game that very few people take the time to carry their bags and walk an entire round. Operating a golf cart is open to anyone who pays for a round of golf and there is little to no supervision of how and where people operate these carts. Many times people will allow young children to operate them. And we all understand that one of the major activities on a golf course for many people is drinking alcohol, not the best combination for safety.
Golf carts have a unique place in Florida law because of a concept known as the "dangerous instrumentality doctrine." Florida courts have determined that something which has the potential to cause great bodily harm may be recognized as a dangerous instrumentality. This includes motor vehicles and golf carts. The courts recognize that when a golf cart runs into someone, the injured person often suffers significant and permanent injuries. Our firm has handled many of these cases. Click here to read about Barbara’s case.
The importance of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine is the owner of a dangerous instrumentality is always liable for its use, even if they personally did not commit an act of negligence. It is often referred to as strict liability. In practice, when a golf course allows a customer to drive off on a golf cart, the golf course is responsible if the operator hurts someone even if the driver was negligent or at fault in causing the injury. This has a big impact on cases involving injuries caused on golf courses.
If there is evidence the driver was negligent or did something careless which resulted in the cart striking and injuring someone else, the driver may be held financially responsible for the harm they cause. If the driver owns their own home, even if they live out of state, their negligence may be covered by their homeowners insurance. This means the injured golfer may bring a claim against the driver’s home owners insurance to pay for the full measure of their injury, including medical expenses, pain and suffering wage loss and other losses.
It also means the golf course may be held responsible as the owner of the golf cart as well. If the driver is not a homeowner, the golf course may be the only party held financially responsible. Golf courses are typically insured under commercial policies with high levels of insurance coverage.
For more information on golf cart accidents, browse our library. If you or someone you know has been injured because of someone else’s carelessness on a golf course, we are always available to answer your questions and help you understand what recovery may be possible on your behalf. There is never a charge to talk about your case. You can reach out to us via live chat on our website, by filling out information on our contact form on this page, or by calling us to speak with one of our case intake specialists. We look forward to hearing from you.