Is Your Golf Cart Street Legal?

Is Your Golf Cart Street Legal?

Whether your golf cart is street-legal depends on your state of residence - and perhaps even your city or neighborhood. Laws about where golf cart drivers can operate their carts vary significantly across the country.

Regardless of where you drive your golf cart, motor vehicle drivers and other cart operators must place safety first. If you were in a golf cart accident, Our expert golf cart accident attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve.

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Golf Cart Laws Vary by State

While some states may have many communities with abundant golf carts (sometimes called low-speed or neighborhood vehicles), other states primarily resign golf cart drivers to the golf course. States with retirement communities tend to have more golf carts.

Each state must establish laws related to:

States generally set a legal driving age for golf cart operators. For instance, some states allow teens to operate golf carts, but they might need a learner's permit. Different rules may apply to operating golf carts on private property versus public roads.

Where Can Golf Cart Drivers Legally Operate?

Golf cart operators (and motorists) must know where they can and cannot drive golf carts. Golf carts should stay on designated roads. When a motor vehicle driver unexpectedly encounters a golf cart, it can increase the likelihood of an accident.

For example Florida only permits golf cart operators on streets with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Other states have different laws about where golf carts can legally operate. Some states allow local governments to set rules about where you can drive golf carts.

State and local governments typically define the requirements for a golf cart to operate legally on a public road (if the law allows golf carts at all).

Some communities allow golf carts on streets, but require street-legal golf carts to have:

Golf cart collision resulting in property damage on the golf course.
  • Headlamps
  • Horn
  • Rearview mirror
  • Safety warning label
  • Reflex reflectors
  • A braking system
  • A reverse warning system
  • A removable main power switch
  • Tail lamps
  • Hip restraints

This list fairly accurately represents golf cart safety requirements in many states. However, golf cart operators should know the requirements in their specific state and community.

How Individual Communities Govern Golf Cart Usage

Individual communities can apply to govern golf carts how they see fit. For example, one locality recently put forth legislation that will allow golf cart drivers to operate on certain streets. This will depart from state law banning golf carts on roads, but community-by-community variation in golf cart laws makes plenty of sense.

Some communities may allow more widespread use of golf carts because:

  • The community’s population relies heavily on golf carts as a mode of transportation (which is often the case in retirement communities)
  • There is a golf course within the community, and many residents use golf carts to get to and from the course to their home (or the golf course requires players to use public roadways)
  • The community relies on tourism, and golf carts are an important mode of transportation for tourists (as can be the case in beachfront communities)
  • There are many low-speed roads where golf carts and motor vehicles can safely coexist

State and local politicians may make laws based on what is best for their residents. Some states ban golf carts on public roadways altogether, while others have more liberal golf cart laws.

Unfortunately, following the law is not always enough to keep golf cart operators safe. It takes two (golf cart operators and motorists) to prevent golf cart accidents.

Even When They Follow the Law, Golf Cart Operators Face Danger

Golf cart drivers and passengers lack the physical protections afforded to those in cars, SUVs, and trucks. Without airbags, a sturdy physical barrier, and other safety features, those in golf carts face a severe risk of injury when involved in a collision.

Wherever a golf cart operator drives, they can become an accident victim without notice. Some causes of golf cart accidents include:

Motorist Negligence

Those driving cars, SUVs, and trucks must always exercise caution, especially when golf carts are on the roadway.

Motorists endanger golf cart drivers and passengers when they:

  • Speed
  • Drive while distracted
  • Drive while intoxicated
  • Drive while tired
  • Fail to give a golf cart enough room to maneuver (particularly when passing the cart)
  • Tailgate the golf cart
  • Run traffic lights, stop signs, yield signs, and crosswalks

If a motorist strikes a golf cart with their vehicle, they must cover the economic and non-economic costs of the accident.

Golf Cart Defects or Motor Vehicle Defects

Defects in a golf cart can directly cause or contribute to a collision.

Such defects may affect the golf cart’s:

  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Steering components
  • Headlights
  • Brake lights
  • Motor 

Golf cart defects can lead to a single-cart accident. A cart-on-cart or cart-on-car collision may also happen because of golf cart or motor vehicle defects.

Dangerous Road Conditions

Municipalities must ensure safe roads for motorists, golf cart drivers, bicyclists, and anyone else on or near the roadway.

To be safe, a road must:

  • Have clear lane markings
  • Have traffic signals where necessary
  • Have ample signage, including stop signs, yield signs, pedestrian crossing signs, and any other signs that promote safety
  • Have adequate lighting for nighttime driving
  • Be free of potholes, uneven surfaces, and other blemishes

Golf cart accident lawyers make no assumptions about their clients’ cases. Instead, they investigate, gather and analyze facts and evidence, and identify those liable for the collision.

Who Can You Hold Liable for a Golf Cart Accident?

Your lawyer will determine liability for your accident, as each accident happens in a unique way.

Potentially liable parties include:

  • A motorist
  • A motor vehicle manufacturer
  • A golf cart manufacturer
  • A municipality responsible for road conditions
  • Any other individual or organization that contributed to the accident

Attorneys who understand negligence and can investigate a golf cart accident in great detail will identify those who owe you compensation.

I Was the Victim of a Golf Cart Accident. What Should I Do Now?

Whatever the nature of your golf cart accident, you can seek compensation for your accident-related damages.

First, tend to your health by:

  • Receiving a complete physical examination
  • Receiving treatment for any psychological and emotional distress you are experiencing
  • Request written diagnoses for each of your accident-related symptoms
  • Requesting imaging for any physical injuries you’ve suffered (depending on the injury, you may need X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans)
  • Keeping copies of all medical records and bills

Follow your doctor’s advice. This will give you the best chance of recovery and also serve your personal injury lawsuit or claim.

Why Hire a Golf Cart Accident Lawyer?

The financial uncertainty that comes from traffic accidents can, in fact, worsen health problems. Therefore, treat your insurance claim or lawsuit as a priority.

You don’t have to lead your own case, though.

A lawyer is most qualified to lead your case because:

  • Golf cart accident victims generally have little time to spare: For most, life is hectic even before they are involved in a golf cart accident. Your life may become considerably more difficult post-accident, and you may not have the time to lead an insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • Your recovery warrants your full attention: Your health should always be priority number one. If you hire a personal injury lawyer to lead your golf cart accident case, you can rest and receive treatment without worrying about your case.
  • Attorneys offer experience, training, and knowledge that you likely do not have: Lawyers handle cases like yours day in and day out. This affords them a level of experience that you may not have. Furthermore, lawyers know the laws pertaining to golf carts and motor vehicles. This knowledge and experience may be a massive credit to your case.
  • Law firms lift the financial burden off their clients: A personal injury law firm will cover the cost of completing your case. The firm will only receive a fee if they secure compensation for you. This means that your law firm takes all the financial risk in leading your case.

What a Golf Cart Accident Lawyer Will Do for You

Your golf cart accident lawyer will cater to you and your case. Some standard duties that a lawyer performs are:

Your lawyer will take over communications with insurers and others involved in your case as soon as you hire them.

By overseeing all communications, your lawyer will:

  • Prevent any attempts to violate your rights
  • Ensure consistent messaging about your case
  • Ensure the claims and legal processes progress as quickly as possible

Attorneys have paralegals who can help manage case-related communications.

Investigating and Detailing the Golf Cart Accident

Your attorney will secure all relevant evidence from the accident, which may include:

  • Witness accounts (and your account) of the accident
  • Video footage of the accident
  • Photographs of accident-related property damage
  • An expert’s reconstruction of the golf cart collision

Your lawyer will launch an immediate and detailed investigation. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner they can begin investigating your accident.

Proof of your accident-related damages may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Records of all accident-related medical care
  • Your own account of pain and suffering and other accident-related damages
  • Proof of lost income
  • Invoices for property expenses

Your attorney should leave no doubt about the toll your golf cart accident took on you (and possibly your loved ones).

Calculating a Fair Settlement and Fighting to Secure It

Golf cart accident lawyers calculate both economic and non-economic damages. You must know the exact value of your accident because you likely have only one opportunity to secure a settlement or verdict.

With a capable lawyer leading your case, you will not have to wonder whether you are seeking the proper amount of compensation.

Going to Trial, If Necessary

Though it is more statistically likely that your case will end with a settlement, some golf cart accident cases go to trial. If yours does, your attorney will argue for a jury to award you the compensation you deserve.

Damages a Golf Cart Accident Victim May Seek Compensation For

Any golf cart accident can cause significant harm.

Whether another golf cart or motor vehicle hit you, or your cart rolled over or hit a stationary object, you may suffer:

  • Medical expenses: These may result from ambulance transport, emergency care, and all other medical services you receive after the golf cart accident. 
  • Lost income: If you cannot work for any period after your accident, you may lose income, bonus and promotion opportunities, and earning power.
  • Pain and suffering: You may receive compensation for physical pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional anguish, psychological distress, sleep problems, lost quality of life, and other pain and suffering related to your accident. 
  • Property costs: If you need to repair or replace your golf cart or any other personal property, your attorney will seek appropriate compensation through your claim or lawsuit. 

Golf cart accident lawyers also represent those affected by fatal collisions. They can lead a wrongful death lawsuit for you.

Hire a Golf Cart Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

James Holliday, Personal Injury Attorney
James Holliday, Golf Cart Accident Attorney

Your attorney may face a strict filing deadline for your case, and missing that deadline can be financially catastrophic. Hire your skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so they can begin building your case today. Never underestimate the importance of seeking legal help, as a golf cart accident can cost thousands of dollars, and the liable party should cover your losses.

James Wayne Holliday Author Image

James Wayne Holliday

James Wayne Holliday has been practicing law since 1995. He has been named as a “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Member in Florida, an honor awarded to less than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.

Mr. Holliday has earned a reputation as a relentless trial lawyer because of his outstanding work ethic and thorough preparation of his cases for trial.

Author's Bio


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