With golf season in full swing, it’s not uncommon for someone to ask, “Can I sue if I am hit by a golf ball?” As with many things in the law, the answer is, “It depends.” Many facets of the law come into play to determine liability in golf ball injury cases. For example, principles of premises liability, defective design and/or intentional torts can be called upon to determine liability.
Whether a golf ball injury is compensable depends on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. That said, there are some common scenarios which can provide a useful guide. These include golf players hit on the course, people hit by golf balls on their private property next to the course, and people hit by a golf ball while on public lands, such as on a park bench or walking trail next to a course.
Hit by a Golf Ball While Golfing
Anyone playing golf should know the basic rule, if your golf ball is headed towards people, it is imperative to yell, “Fore!” to warn others of the incoming ball. Sometimes, the golfer misjudges the distance the ball is traveling. Still other times, a golfer doesn’t pay attention to where their ball is going.
As a general rule, fellow golfers assume a certain amount of risk that they can be hit by a golf ball in the normal course of playing the game. Consequently, most golfers do not have a claim against another player – or the course – for a head injury sustained while playing. Of course, there are exceptions. Intentional misconduct, such as deliberately hitting a ball in the specific direction of another player can result in the basis for a suit.
Hit by a Golf Ball While on Adjacent Private Property
Assuming a properly designed course, golf course owners generally bear no liability for people hit by golf balls while on private property adjacent to the course. The law presumes spectators of golf assume the risk of golf ball injuries, just as players do. While a resident in a home adjacent to the golf course may not be a spectator to a game on the course, the “spectator status” is presumed for those who purchase, live in, or visit homes on the course. There are exceptions to this general rule. For example, if the course was negligently designed, the injured party may have a basis for a suit. Additionally, just as with parties injured on the golf course, if another golfer deliberately and intentionally hits a golf ball at a person on private property, a subsequent injury may be the basis of a lawsuit.
Hit by a Golf Ball While on Public Land
When a person is on public land, such as in a park or on a nature trail, and is hit by a golf ball, whether they have a claim is based on specific facts and circumstances. The fact is, even the best players occasionally hook or slice the ball. When the course is aligned with a roadway, a park, or a trail, sometimes the ball will end up there instead of on the fairway. The question then becomes, “What steps, if any, has the golf course owner taken to protect the public from stray golf balls?” A fence, or a line of trees, or netting may be reasonable under the circumstances. There is no “one size fits all” answer to what constitutes sufficient precautions. A free consultation with a personal injury lawyer will help you determine if you have a valid injury claim.
If You Have Suffered A Golf Ball Injury
If you or a loved one suffered an injury caused by an errant golf ball, you may have a claim. The personal injury lawyers at Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers are available to discuss the facts and circumstances of your golf ball injury. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.