Golf ball injuries can be severe. Golf balls are small, heavy, and falling from great heights can increase the potential severity of any injuries caused. This increases the risk of serious head injury and even damage to critical brain functions. Bodily impact can also leave welts and even break bones with the added velocity of the ball falling from a great height.
If you or someone you know has been injured by a golf ball or suffered a sport-related golfing accident, the question of liability is a complex one. There is a fine line between the natural assumption of risk and factors that extend beyond the sport. Today, we’ll help you discover whether your case can be taken to civil court.
Natural Risk of the Sport
Golf liability falls under the laws that define sport participation. When participants play in a shared sport, they legally accept the assumed risks of the activity. Golf players cannot sue one another for things that happen in the natural course of the game.
Assuming the natural risk of the sport includes the occasional stray golf ball.
Reckless Straying from Game Activity
Golfers play in a very careful and specific way. Each may have a different favorite club or type of swing, but the rules are the same. Activities outside those defined by the game that results in injury can be deemed reckless straying from the game. Therefore, these activities fall outside the assumed risk of the sport.
– Horseplay and Roughhousing
Horseplay and roughhousing are never part of the intended conduct of golf. Any injury that is the result of roughhousing or horseplay is subject to personal liability laws.
– Thrown Golf Balls and Equipment
If you are hit by a thrown golf ball, or any other thrown equipment, then the person who has thrown these objects is liable for causing harm outside the normal sporting risks.
– Swinging Golf Clubs
Golf club injuries may be considered liable even if they occur during normal play.
Aggressive Defiance of Safety Protocols
The next type of liable golf ball injury is when someone is playing the game, but are doing so in defiance of safety protocols. Liability can be assumed if the person who tees off did not check the ‘zone of danger’ first, did not announce their swing, or was probably aiming for people rather than the open fairway.
– Hitting Balls Toward a Person or Crowd
If a player hits (or throws) a golf ball deliberately in a direction that could cause harm, even if their goal was not to cause harm, they are liable for injuries that result from that action.
– Driving While Golfers are on the Fairway
A golfer who tees off before the fairway is clear or who fails to shout is thus liable for any injuries they cause by defying safety protocols.
Injuries Caused by Golf Course Design
When someone is injured by a golf ball, the golf course itself must also be examined for liability. Flaws in the course design can make it more difficult or even impossible for players to know when they are putting one another at risk, or are themselves at risk from an unseen player.
– Spectator Safety Areas
In most cases, the golf course is liable for ensuring that spectators at an event are aware of where they can safely stand or sit to watch. Spectators who leave the designated safe areas, however, may waive the venue’s liability.
– Holes Too Close Together
If the course holes are too close together, errant balls hit for long flight are much more likely to accidentally hit someone golfing at a different hole. There is always some risk from hole to hole, but there are also regulations to ensure safety.
– Obscuring Terrain Hiding Players on Fairway
The landscaping design of each hole also matters for course safety. A course that creates dangerous obscured sections of the fairway may be liable for injuries that result from this literal oversight.
Injuries Outside the Golf Course
Finally, there are golf ball injuries that occur outside of a golf course. People walking alongside golf courses often are not aware that there is golf nearby and/or have not taken on the natural assumption of risk for being near the sport. The legal owner of the path itself will often determine whether or not the golf course can be held liable. Players who intentionally hit balls over the edge are almost assuredly liable for defying the rules of the game.
If you or someone you know has recently suffered a golf ball or golfing related injury, you can seek justice. Many golfing injuries are caused by misconduct, reckless negligence, or poor course design. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case and find out if those responsible for your injury can be held liable for their conduct.