In most instances, there is no dispute as to whether a “vehicle” was involved when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. However, in Angelotta v. Security National Insurance, Florida’s District Court of Appeals tackled the question of whether a modified golf cart constitutes a “vehicle” when it comes to insurance policies.
In early 2008, Mr. Snyder was driving a golf cart on a public roadway when he sideswiped a car and subsequently collided with Mr. Angelotta’s stopped golf cart. Mr. Snyder had been leasing the golf cart, which had been modified so that it could travel in excess of 20 miles an hour.
Mr. Angelotta sued Mr. Snyder under the theory of negligence for the injuries he sustained in the accident. At the time of the crash, Mr. Snyder had automobile insurance through National Insurance. National Insurance, however, refused to defend or indemnify Mr. Snyder in the litigation, stating that the golf cart was not a “vehicle” covered under the insurance policy.
The trial court awarded Mr. Angelotta approximately $70,000 in damages. Mr. Snyder assigned Mr. Angelotta any rights to indemnification against National Insurance in exchange for Angelotta’s promise not to enforce the judgment from him. Mr. Angelotta then sued National Insurance and requested a declaratory judgment from the court that would rule that the golf cart was covered under Mr. Snyder’s insurance policy. The court ruled that the golf cart was not considered a vehicle because it was not intended to be used on public highways.
Mr. Angelotta filed an appeal but died while it was ongoing. The court allowed the personal representative of Mr. Angelotta’s estate to continue the action.
The 5th District Court of Appeals reversed the decision, however, stating that the cart did fall within the category of a “vehicle” due to the fact that it had been modified. Specifically, the golf cart was a “low-speed vehicle” that was covered under the policy. Under Florida statutory law, a “low-speed vehicle” is defined as a four-wheeler that can travel faster than 20 mph but not more than 25 mph. Thus, the modified golf cart in this case fit the legal definition of a “low-speed vehicle.”
In sunny Florida, where golf courses are abundant, golf carts are also common. While in most cases a golf cart will not qualify as a vehicle, in certain limited cases it can be considered a vehicle, which can implicate an individual’s insurance company. This case is important because it outlines that “vehicles” may encompass more types of automobiles than what we traditionally think of.
Dealing with an insurance company is never easy, which is why having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make all the difference in your case. Robert Dixon is a highly qualified Miami accident lawyer who will help you understand your legal rights and options. We are well versed in virtually all areas of personal injury law and proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. Call us today at our toll-free number at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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