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Negligence if your ball hits someone off the course? - Page 5

post #73 of 95

Finally some sanity to this case

 

 

A DuPage County judge dismissed Friday a lawsuit against a Naperville golfer whose errant tee shot struck a woman gardening in a backyard adjacent to a West Chicago country club.

Lillian Demo, who owns a house along the 17th hole of St. Andrews Golf and Country Club, sued in 2007 for unspecified damages from Raymond Kinney, who hit the wayward shot Aug. 25, 2005. Demo claims she was struck in the head and still suffers migraine headaches.

According to the suit, Kinney was negligent in failing to aim and properly execute his swing.

In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge John Elsner said the contention that a golfer is negligent and liable when a shot veers off course "is simply not the law in Illinois."

 

Click here to read the full story

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-golf-ball-dismiss-0226-20110225,0,2584552.story

post #74 of 95


Here the issue is reasonable forseeable risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clambake View Post

 
I'm not an attorney, but I understand that in this case the golfer would be liable based on the "assumption of risk". A driver on the road is assumed to be accepting of certain risks of driving on the road, but since it is a bonafide road and expected to allow safe transport for a car, the driver does not assume any risk. In the case of a home on a golf course, the homeowner is knowledgeable of the golf course and assumes a reasonable risk. "Reasonable" is also a key term here - the homeowner assumes the risk for golfers in the normal course of play, but does not assume the risk of golfers deliberate firing drivers at their living room window.

This case may indeed seem frivolous, and it will very likely be ruled in favor of the golfer, but our legal tort system does allow people to seek damages if they believe they have been wronged. It is unfortunate that the poor golfer will have to go through this, but that is part of the price we pay for having a system that has very specific rules and directions and yet is open to all. If those rules failed, our legal system could be gradually shifted in directions that would likely favor only the wealthy and powerful or nefarious special interests. There is probably too much of that anyway, but the system does work amazingly well given the motivations and frailities of all involved.

While some here are condemming the judge here, I think there needs to be a better understanding of the judge's duties at this stage in a lawsuit. The judge has to determine if the filed lawsuit meets the basic standards of law and if there are any unambiguous points which can be resolved he can rule on those claims, but if there are any potential open issues he/she must allow the case to proceed to allow both sides to present their position on those ambiguities. In this case, it appears that the judge disallowed one of the claims about the golfer not providing warning, as it was apparently resolved to the court's satisfaction that the golfer or someone in his party had indeed provided such warning. However, the claims that the golfer performed in a negligent manner cannot be determined at this stage and the judge has no choice but to allow it to proceed so it can be properly litigated. The judge's actions here have nothing to do with him/her being liberal or conservative, but simply a case of them doing their job under very clear legal guidelines. If he/she were to do otherwise, they would be negligent in their own sworn duty by prematurely making a legal ruling without the necessary information from both sides.
post #75 of 95

Like many others, the course I play at was forced to cut a par 5 down to a par 3 due to a neighbour (who bought his house some 60 years after the golf course was built) threatened to sue etc. Obviously, the neighbour has legal support, or the club would never have compromised. Ironic now, that the particular neighbour has now moved.....

 

But stories like these are not kept to golf courses etc. It is now the way of the world, where if someone gets injured for what ever reason, they sue. Regardless of the facts, the 'shared blame factor', or any other reason - they sue...... It is an indictment on the world today.

 

What if the had to pay tax on all the money she made selling golf balls that landed in her property??

 

 

Summation;

The world sucks.

post #76 of 95

You can sue anyone, but winning is a different story.  I had a house built on a golf course in Virginia.  We had to sign numerous waivers for personal injury and property damage.  Anyone that buys a house on a golf course is made fully aware of the risks they accept prior to closing. 

post #77 of 95

having worked on a golf course, if someone hits a house/car/anything and breaks it, the golfer who did the damage is responsible. however, the golfer can deny and he will get away with it. even if we know that this person did in fact hit a car or house, we can't do anything about it if he deny hitting the golf ball. people have called the police and the police just come over and say sorry, we cant do anything about this and they drive away. we even have signs up on the course that say you the golfer are responsible for damages. but they are useless. the lady suing will probably win even though she shouldn't.

post #78 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by golf4fun12 View Post

having worked on a golf course, if someone hits a house/car/anything and breaks it, the golfer who did the damage is responsible. however, the golfer can deny and he will get away with it. even if we know that this person did in fact hit a car or house, we can't do anything about it if he deny hitting the golf ball. people have called the police and the police just come over and say sorry, we cant do anything about this and they drive away. we even have signs up on the course that say you the golfer are responsible for damages. but they are useless. the lady suing will probably win even though she shouldn't.


I don't understand how a golfer can be held responsible for a hitting a house or it's surroundings when the house was built on the golf course. Anybody who buys a house on a course understands (Or should) that errant shots are part of the game.
 

post #79 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetsknicks1 View Post




I don't understand how a golfer can be held responsible for a hitting a house or it's surroundings when the house was built on the golf course. Anybody who buys a house on a course understands (Or should) that errant shots are part of the game.
 


yes, of course. the golfer is really not responsible.

post #80 of 95

You know, the fact that errant shots happen, and that homeowners should expect their houses to get hit on occasion, and the fact that the golfers don't do so intentionally, doesn't change the fact that if you hit a ball into a house your actions were directly responsible for the damage.  Just because the existing laws do not require someone to pay for that damage doesn't make it ethically right to not at least offer compensation.

post #81 of 95

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sacm3bill View Post

You know, the fact that errant shots happen, and that homeowners should expect their houses to get hit on occasion, and the fact that the golfers don't do so intentionally, doesn't change the fact that if you hit a ball into a house your actions were directly responsible for the damage.  Just because the existing laws do not require someone to pay for that damage doesn't make it ethically right to not at least offer compensation.


But the homeowner directly contributed to the damage by locating their home in the "line of fire," so to speak.  Just because you happened to cause the final action in the chain of events that led to the damage (or injury) does not necessarily make you responsible , neither legally nor ethically.

post #82 of 95

This thread is typical to everyday life as we know it today. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions. If the golfer denies hitting the ball, then its more a moral issue.  I can see that this is not a popular stance reading all the comments above this, but in today's society, people are only thinking about themselves and could care less about anyone or anything else.

post #83 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeg View Post 


But the homeowner directly contributed to the damage by locating their home in the "line of fire," so to speak.  Just because you happened to cause the final action in the chain of events that led to the damage (or injury) does not necessarily make you responsible , neither legally nor ethically.


Zeg, you and I usually see eye to eye but not on this issue. Am I partially responsible for the chain of events that led to the damage caused when someone rear-ends my car, simply because I bought the car and drove it out into the street? If not, how is that different?

post #84 of 95

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sacm3bill View Post

Zeg, you and I usually see eye to eye but not on this issue. Am I partially responsible for the chain of events that led to the damage caused when someone rear-ends my car, simply because I bought the car and drove it out into the street? If not, how is that different?
 

 

It's a fair question.

 

The difference is that an attentive driver is expected to maintain complete control over his vehicle at all times, whereas balls hit OB are a common part of the game, even at the highest skill levels.  If someone rear-ends you, it's almost certain that they were driving negligently by either not paying attention, following too closely, driving too fast, or making some other error in judgement [*].  When making a golf swing, no one has the control to guarantee that every ball will actually go where it was aimed, so you can't reasonably ascribe a wayward shot to negligence.  A golfer can take every reasonable precaution (aside from not playing) and still cause damage or injury.

 

Now, you can't ignore the fact that golf courses are designed, built, advertised, and sold to their customers as facilities for playing golf.  Anyone building or buying a house located adjacent is aware of the fact that golf will be played near their property, and is almost certainly well aware that golf balls will find their way onto their property.  As such, if they are unwilling to accept the risk of a ball striking them or their property, they can either not buy that property, or take steps to ensure that the worst reasonable shot a golfer could make won't hit them.  That could be a large net or fence, or aligning the holes so that the direction of play won't head anywhere near the boundary of the course.  These are steps that the homeowner or the golf course need to take, and if they aren't taken, one or the other is implicitly taking responsibility for the very foreseeable outcome that some golfer is going to hit a wayward shot that hurts someone or breaks something.

 

I think you and I probably do see eye-to-eye that people need to take responsibility for their actions.  I think you're ignoring the responsibility the injured party (and/or homeowner, golf course, etc) has to protect against foreseeable "random" events.  Here, I'm assuming that the golfer really did everything necessary to play the game as safely as possible, so if he hit someone who was in the fairway or did something else stupid, I would absolutely agree he's responsible.  Barring that, I think a golfer who is playing on a golf course and is playing the game in a safe manner (to the extent that this is possible) has generally fulfilled his duty to avoid liability.  If someone or something is injured by the ball, it's unfortunate, but random, and I don't think you can fairly pin the blame on the guy who hit the ball.  Anyone one the course assumes that risk knowingly, and anyone living (or located [**]) adjacent to the course does as well.

 

Footnotes:

[*] Regarding rear-ending, if the rear-ending is caused by a mechanical failure, things might be more complicated.  Most of the time, though, even this would be the fault of the driver because he's responsible for maintaining the car in a safe condition.

 

[**] In the case that someone driving or walking near the course is struck by a ball, I still don't think the golfer is responsible.  If the course is set up so that fairly played balls are leaving the course, that is irresponsible design on the part of the course.  They at least need to take pretty strong measures to inform the golfer of the specific risk, but I don't think that's really an adequate solution.  I think we'd be better off holding the golf course responsible so that they fix the problem and prevent the injuries.

post #85 of 95

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AzGolfGeek View Post

This thread is typical to everyday life as we know it today. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions. If the golfer denies hitting the ball, then its more a moral issue.  I can see that this is not a popular stance reading all the comments above this, but in today's society, people are only thinking about themselves and could care less about anyone or anything else.


As zeg points out the home buyer has a responsibility to realize that they're buying a house which may be struck by golf balls.

 

What you're saying is akin to a guy standing on a highway and expecting to be safe. He will be most of the time, but you'll get the occasional driver who will sneeze or swerve to avoid a car that's merging or a pothole or whatnot and can clip the guy. He's responsible for putting himself in harm's way, just as the homeowner is responsible for buying a house in harm's way.

 

Court cases almost always break down that way.

 

I know I've heard of one where some large trees on the course's property protected a home, the trees were cut down, and balls started hitting the house. The homeowner sued (the course) and won because the course should have maintained the level of protection at the time of the purchase (i.e. the home buyer had a reasonable right to expect that his yard could remain ball-free). I think the course moved the tees so golfers would aim more away from the house because that was a better option to them than putting up a net.

 

Unless the golfer intentionally tries to hit the house, it's simply not the golfer's liability, legally. So it's not that they're "failing to accept responsibility" but that they're stupidly offering to pay for something they aren't obligated - even morally unless they intentionally tried to hit the house - to pay for. The homeowner likely has homeowner's insurance, and that insurance is likely higher because the insurance agency sees that they chose to live on a golf course!

post #86 of 95

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

As zeg points out the home buyer has a responsibility to realize that they're buying a house which may be struck by golf balls.

 

Yep, you made some good points there zeg.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Unless the golfer intentionally tries to hit the house, it's simply not the golfer's liability, legally. So it's not that they're "failing to accept responsibility" but that they're stupidly offering to pay for something they aren't obligated - even morally unless they intentionally tried to hit the house - to pay for. The homeowner likely has homeowner's insurance, and that insurance is likely higher because the insurance agency sees that they chose to live on a golf course!

 

You're right, it's not the golfer's liability legally, which I think is how it should be. However I don't think the moral issue is as black and white as you see it - perhaps because I *would* feel a moral obligation to take responsibility and am reluctant to consider myself stupid.

 

The fact that someone may have homeowner's insurance is a non-argument. I have homeowners insurance too but if someone's kid threw a baseball through my window I'm not going to file a claim and risk my rates going up - I'm going to get the kid or his parent to pay.

 

post #87 of 95

Sue someone and pray you get rich... the American dream.

post #88 of 95

I have an interesting similar scenario but is non-golf related.   Home owner in northern Minnesota, doesn't shovel the snow off their front sidewalk that leads to the front door of the house, they do not shovel the snow off the porch either, so there's about 5 feet of snow to climb through to get to the front door. Should the home owner be held libel from an injury someone else incurred trying to get to the front door to preach some religion to them. There also was sign posted next to the door bell that reads, NO SOLICITORS.

post #89 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzGolfGeek View Post

I have an interesting similar scenario but is non-golf related.   Home owner in northern Minnesota, doesn't shovel the snow off their front sidewalk that leads to the front door of the house, they do not shovel the snow off the porch either, so there's about 5 feet of snow to climb through to get to the front door. Should the home owner be held libel from an injury someone else incurred trying to get to the front door to preach some religion to them. There also was sign posted next to the door bell that reads, NO SOLICITORS.

I believe that is based on local laws.  In NY, homeowners are responsible for clearing their walkway and any sidewalks that are on their property.  If someone fell as a result of the homeowners negligence their homeowners policy would cover the claims unless you tried to prove the person injured was trespassing.

 

 

post #90 of 95

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sacm3bill View Post

The fact that someone may have homeowner's insurance is a non-argument. I have homeowners insurance too but if someone's kid threw a baseball through my window I'm not going to file a claim and risk my rates going up - I'm going to get the kid or his parent to pay.


But that's not the bulk of my argument. You did not buy a house that was four feet beyond the left field wall of a baseball field, and your window was not situated directly behind the backboard on a public basketball court.

 

Were it, and had you bought the house knowing that condition, you've made a choice, just as you'll make a choice to pay - or not - for homeowner's insurance (perhaps above and beyond the legally mandated levels).

 

I get that you may feel morally obligated. And that's fine. I don't know how I'd feel - I've never come close to damaging anything while playing golf. I might feel bad too, but I'd probably stop feeling bad after paying their deductible, that's for sure, if I did choose to pay.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AzGolfGeek View Post

Home owner in northern Minnesota, doesn't shovel the snow off their front sidewalk that leads to the front door of the house, they do not shovel the snow off the porch either, so there's about 5 feet of snow to climb through to get to the front door. Should the home owner be held libel from an injury someone else incurred trying to get to the front door to preach some religion to them. There also was sign posted next to the door bell that reads, NO SOLICITORS.


That's not really similar, and newtogolf answered it pretty well already.

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