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Accidents Involving Street Legal Golf Carts

Golf cartIn Alabama, the typical golf carts that you rent at your local course are not legal for use on public roads. As these vehicles are lacking in safety features and have engines far too small to keep up with traffic, it’s easy to understand why this restriction makes sense. However, Alabama law does allow a golf cart owner to upgrade the cart to what is known as a low-speed vehicle, or LSV, which is street legal provided it meets certain federal, state and local laws. If you have sustained injury involving an accident with a street legal golf cart or LSV, it is important to contact the product liability lawyers of Tobias, McCormick & Comer for a free case review to determine what type of case you may have.

Upgrading a golf cart to an LSV is not all that easy. It must have an engine capable of going at least 15 miles per hour and must be equipped with four-wheel brakes and DOT-approved windshields, seatbelts, mirrors, headlights, taillights and turn signals. All LSVs must have 17-digit VIN numbers, like regular automobiles.

Street legal golf carts and other LSVs are involved in accidents from time to time, just like other motor vehicles. The victims are often pedestrians, bicyclists and occupants of other vehicles. Because LSVs are restricted to operating on roads where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less, one might think that these accidents don’t result in very serious injuries. Although a speed of 25 miles per hour may seem low for a vehicle, it is not low for a human body. Even Usain Bolt, the world record sprinter, achieves an estimated top speed of about 23.5 miles per hour, and he can only maintain that for short distances.

The impact of a low-speed crash can be likened to a fall. According to the Ellis Clinic in Oklahoma:

  • A 10-mph impact is equivalent to falling 3.3 feet.
  • A 15-mph impact is equivalent to falling 7.5-feet.
  • A 20-mph impact is equivalent to falling 13.4 feet.
  • A 25-mph impact is equivalent to falling 20 feet (nearly the height of a two-story building).

Most people who fall 20 feet or more sustain injuries, some of which are fatal. It is easy to see, then, how an impact between a street legal golf cart and pedestrian, for example, could result in serious harm. Torn ligaments, broken bones, internal injuries, paralysis and even traumatic brain injuries are known to occur in LSV accidents.

Occupants of street legal golf carts are also vulnerable. Despite the upgrades that turn a golf cart into an LSV, these vehicles are still much lighter than most passenger cars and trucks. Even a compact sedan like the Honda Civic weighs in around 3,000 pounds. When a regular car or truck strikes a golf cart, the sheer weight disparity means the golf cart occupants are much more likely to get injured, perhaps fatally. In addition, LSV’s often have poor stability characteristics and can easily overturn, potentially causing catastrophic injury to the occupants.

If you or someone you love was injured in a crash involving a street legal golf cart in Alabama, talk to an attorney at Tobias, McCormick & Comer, LLC. Our Mobile-based personal injury lawyers have deep experience in personal injury, product liability and motor vehicle accident cases and we will fight for the compensation you need and deserve. Call us at 251-432-5001 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.


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