When people think about vehicle-related accidents, car crashes are usually the first thing that come to mind. If pressed further, people may consider motorcycle or bicycle accidents. Next might be the mass-transit world of buses, trains, and even planes. It might not make even the most thought out lists, but our Panama City accident lawyer knows that golf cart accidents are a reality. Over the years, carts have gotten more powerful, but operators tend to take piloting the vehicles much less seriously than they'd ever take driving a car. This dangerous combination can lead to accidents resulting in injury or even death.
On Friday morning, Lois Corbin of Fort Walton Beach set out to play a round of golf at Shalimar Pointe Golf and Country Club. According to her son, who spoke to the Northwest Florida Daily News, the 86-year-old was an avid golfer who had played the sport for 45 years, and she enjoyed golfing several times per week. Corbin was driving a golf cart near the first hole when she attempted to navigate around a roped-off area. She steered too close to a sand trap and the vehicle, a 2009 EZ GO cart, overturned. The fall partially ejected Coburn from the vehicle before the cart's roof landed on top of her. An ambulance transported the victim to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, where medical officials later pronounced her dead. Aside from golfing, Coburn enjoyed painting, working with the Girl Scouts, and raising her family of 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
In 2008, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine published what many believe is the first nationwide study of golf cart related injuries (note: the full-text can be accessed with registration on the Journal's website, a discussion of the study that informs this article is available on Newswise). The Center for Injury Research and Policy, a part of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, conducted the study by examining a 17-year period. According to the investigation, the number of golf cart related injuries soared 132% between 1990 and 2006. In total, an estimated 148,000 golf-cart related injuries occurred in the 17-year period. The number of injuries rose over time, with approximately 5,770 reported cases in 1990 growing to an estimated 13,411 cases in 2006.
What accounts for the change? What sort of injuries result from golf cart incidents? Over time, golf carts have been built to be faster and more powerful. They are also used in more contexts, showing up at sporting events, parks, college campuses, business parks, hospitals, and military bases. There are even small communities and resort areas where carts are used as primary transport instead of cars. The study concluded that most golf cart injuries, over 70%, occurred at sporting or recreational facilities. However, people injured in a cart-related accident that occurred on a street were more likely to require hospitalization and had an increased risk of concussions. Overall, the highest number of injuries stemmed from falling off or jumping from the cart. Children under age 16 accounted for over 30% of the reported injuries, with children more likely to fall and suffer a head or neck injury requiring hospitalization.
The study did offer advice for reducing the number of golf cart related injuries. They recommended not allowing children under six to ride in the carts because they lack child safety features. Drivers should be at least 16 years old to ensure safe operation of the vehicle. Study authors recommended behavioral safety measures like maintaining a reasonable speed, using seat belts, and braking with care. In terms of equipment changes, the authors recommended improved passenger restraints and the use of four-wheel brakes. Facilities can also help by having training/safety programs and requiring that operators have valid driver's licenses. Safe design principles should also be used when designing pathways where carts will be travelling frequently.
Whether you are injured in a car or a golf cart, you have rights. A golf cart accident may be due to poorly maintained pathways, faulty equipment, or the negligence of another operator. If you suffered injury in a golf cart accident that was not your fault, please call our Panama City injury law firm. We are here to help.