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Are Golf Cart Accidents On The Rise?

There was a time when the only place you typically saw a golf cart was on a golf course. Certainly, even then, accidents involving these carts occurred, and people were sometimes injured. However, you no longer have to play golf to run across golf carts in operation.

In fact, golf carts are cropping up in more locations outside golf courses throughout the US – including in Oregon. Moreover, many people have observed more than one golf cart fly by at a dangerous rate of speed. In this blog post, we will explore the kinds of accidents that involve golf carts, why the usage of golf carts is increasing, and some of the ways accidents with golf carts are occurring.

Are There Legal Restrictions for Golf Carts in Oregon?

In a word, yes. First, a golf cart operator must have a driver’s license in Oregon. Concerning driving a golf cart on the street, Oregon Revised Statutes, Section 810.070 permits local jurisdictions to pass ordinances allowing golf carts to be driven on roads between a golf course and the location where the cart is to be parked. Therefore, these rules vary by locality. 

Additionally, just as with other activities in society, tort law requires those operating golf carts to exercise reasonable care. A failure to do so, which results in injury to another person, is actionable.

Traditional Golf Cart Accidents

By traditional golf cart accidents, we refer to those occurring on golf courses. There was a time when many people walked a golf course while playing golf, as we see in televised golf tournaments. But that has become rare. In fact, some courses no longer permit players to walk. Thus, with more people using golf carts on courses, one would expect more accidents.

According to a Gitnux report, about 15,000 injuries related to golf carts occur yearly. Around half of the accidents cause personal injury. More than 11 percent result in head or neck injury. Sometimes, riders fall out of the cart. In some cases, a cart strikes a pedestrian. Other common accidents involve collisions with guardrails or fences. In one reported instance, an Oregon man was killed when his golf cart overturned.

There are 177 golf facilities in the state of Oregon, with 15 of those residing in Portland. While the story mentioned above is just one instance, it isn’t completely isolated. 

Golf Carts Outside Golf Courses

You are correct if you think you’re seeing more golf carts outside of golf courses. Slate calls golf carts a transportation mode of the future. The publication Electrek opines that golf carts are replacing cars in some instances. These publications cite numerous reasons for the increasing popularity of golf carts, especially as compared to cars, including the following:

  • Affordability
  • Electric power (as opposed to gas)
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Easy to drive.
  • Easy to park.
  • Convenient for short commutes

However, as with any mode of transportation, a danger exists if they are not operated carefully. One of the more telling statistics is that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 6500 golf cart accidents per year involve children.

Who is Liable in a Golf Cart Accident? 

In a similar vein to other motor vehicle collisions, proving liability in a golf cart accident will be highly situational. Often, however, fault will lie on the behalf of the operator. 

Golf cart drivers are responsible for handling their vehicles with care – driving negligently or carelessly would place them at fault. Just as with other personal injury and automobile accident cases, operating the vehicle while distracted or intoxicated would place the driver at fault per Oregon’s distracted driving laws. 

These vehicles are usually insured by the golf course they’re driven on, but they may also be owned and insured by an individual. 

Ultimately, thorough investigation and discovery will help to identify if a driver was behaving negligently behind the wheel of a golf cart. 

Call with Questions

Unfortunately, many people treat golf carts like toys and do not drive them carefully. This can lead to serious bodily injury. If you have been injured in a golf cart accident due to another person’s negligence, you may have questions regarding compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. The experienced Oregon personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to help you and answer all of those questions in a free consultation.