Golf carts are a popular transportation device throughout the area. The convenience of being able to quickly load up supplies and visit the beach or a neighbor without getting into a car has lead more and more families to purchase a golf cart. Yet, while these machines do not travel as fast as cars, it is unwise to assume the risk of harm is lessened. Florida golf cart accidents strike all the time, and the results are sometimes serious.
Unlike cars, which have various safety features built in (crashworthiness standards, seat belts, air bags, and more), golf carts come with far less security. Collisions which might not cause any personal injury in cars might have serious consequences for those in a golf cart. Golf cart travelers are rarely strapped in and often ride on the back or hang onto the side. When thrown from the machine the potential for serious harm rises exponentially. In many ways, the increased risks are similar to motorcycles in that the lack of physical protection means accidents often result in more serious injuries.
For example, the Monitor reported last week on a golf cart accident case that just went to trial, filed by a man who suffered a serious traumatic brain injury after falling out of the back of the machine. According to the report the man was volunteering at a local speedway when he was riding in the back of an E-Z-GO golf cart. While riding on the back the man fell out of the cart and hit his head. His head injury was very severe and he spent over a year in hospitals and rehab facilities. The injury has not fully healed, and his still requires help with basic tasks. He was unable to go back to work following the incident.
After being denied worker's compensation for the injury--because they were volunteering at the track--the family filed civil lawsuits against various parties, including the speedway, driver, and manufacturer of the golf cart. The case settled with all parties except the golf cart manufacturer. The case went to trial last week.
The specific claim against the golf cart manufacturer is that they failed to place an adequate warning label on the back of the cart letting consumers know that riding in that space can lead to death or serious injury.
Our Palm Beach product liability attorney understand that arguments about improper warning labels are a common form of product liability suit. When an individual in injured by a consumer products--anything from a golf cart to a toaster--the injured party may have a right to seek compensation for their losses. These suits can be based on inadequate warnings, manufacturing defects (i.e. a part was missing), or a design defect (i.e. the product was inherently made dangerously).
Beyond claims of a lack of proper warning, the plaintiff in this case is also arguing that the manufacturing company tried to "obfuscate" an investigation into the safety of the product by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The interfering with the investigation, the plaintiffs argue, led to the warning label being absent.
For their part, the golf cart company in this case is expected to argue that the man contributed to his own injury by riding in the golf cart in an inappropriate manner. In addition, the company will argue that the racetrack (via its employees) did not drive the cart properly.