Florida Auto Policy Covers Modified Golf Cart: Court

July 22, 2013

A Florida appeals court has ruled that an automobile insurer must cover a Florida man for injuries from a collision in a golf cart that had been modified to exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour.

The ruling overturned a lower court that found that the auto insurance policy was not triggered because the golf cart was not built for use on paved public highways.

The appeals court concluded that the vehicle that had been modified to exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour fell within the statutory definition of a “low speed vehicle” and, as such, was a “motor vehicle” under state law. Florida law requires that an insurance policy insure the insured person for damages “arising out of the use by the person of any motor vehicle not owned by him or her.”

On Feb. 28, 2008, while driving the modified golf cart on a public roadway, John Snyder sideswiped a car and then crashed into a lawfully stopped golf cart operated by John Angelotta. The collision occurred within The Villages, a retirement community in which many residents utilize golf carts as a means of transportation.

Angelotta sued Snyder to recover for injuries he sustained as a result of the collision. At the time of the incident, Snyder had an automobile insurance policy with Security National Insurance.

Golf carts generally do not have to be registered in Florida, however, the appeals court said that low-speed vehicles must be registered and insured if they are operated on a roadway.

The case is Angelotta v Security National Insurance Company. Case No. 5D12-3363 (FL Dist. 5 Ct. App., Jul. 5, 2013).

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