Golf, although seen by some to be a rather genteel sport, more of a game really, does involve a small white projectile travelling at around one hundred and fifty miles an hour. If you are struck by this projectile, as I have been, let me tell you, it really hurts and leaves a prodigious bruise. If you are unlucky enough to be struck in the head, then your injuries can be much worse; possibly even fatal. Golfing injuries: who’s legally responsible in sporting accidents?
Traditionally, liability for injury in the sporting arena has been limited because it is acknowledged that all those who choose to enter this arena understand that there are risks of sustaining a personal injury by the very nature of the sporting contest. More recently, however, in this age of blame and opportunism, there have been cases successfully prosecuted under the law of negligence. One such instance did involve an amateur golfer being held liable for failing to ensure that it was reasonably safe before striking his ball and causing injury to another golfer on the course. State government judicial legislature, in many states, has been enacted to prevent an insurance crisis and a recent report finds that the balance now favours defendants in cases involving sporting accidents.
Golf clubs are very proactive in protecting their members and visitors from personal injury being sustained on the golf course. There are signs warning participants, protective barriers, fences and nets erected in potentially dangerous spots and general reminders about safe play out on the course. Despite this there are still people being hit by golf balls during amateur competitions and whilst spectating at professional tournaments. Avaricious lawyers will always encourage victims of personal injury to mount a claim against clubs, courses and their insurance companies. Total and permanent disability claims when someone becomes a quadriplegic, are another matter altogether and these instances must be ruled accordingly to the serious nature of the injury.
Recently at my own golf club there have been a number of cases of residents who live across the road from the course being struck by errant golf balls on their own property. In the US I noted that personal injury suits in these instances have usually been unsuccessful, as the courts deemed a reasonable amount of shared risk must be taken by the home owner who chooses to live adjacent a golf course. In my own course’s experience we are currently attempting to redesign the hole causing the problem in a bid to prevent anyone else being struck by an errant golf ball.