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Sue pro for errant golf ball?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Tiger played poorly and twice hit a spectator with his golf ball.  If someone was injured badly, could the injured spectator sue for damages, distress, lost income, etc?  Tiger signed two gloves which is hardly compensation. 

 

If i hit someone with my golf ball i am liable for damage or injuries. Are the pros protected by some law or tradition?  Do you think individuals carry insurance or all are covered by some PGA umbrella coverage?

 

What about in baseball or hockey?  Hit  by a foul line drive or flying puck and get your teeth knocked out will cost plenty and may easily find a lawyer. 

post #2 of 23
I know at least when you go to MLB games, they tickets say that you are there at your own risk. They also constantly tell you to stay alert, surely to cover themselves.

I'd be very surprised if the PGA Tour doesn't have some sort of "at your own risk" policy as well.
post #3 of 23

I'm not an attorney, but I imagine that unless the pro was found to be willfully negligent, then getting hit is a risk that any spectator assumes when they step onto a golf course. Honestly, I can't imagine a scenario where a professional golfer would reasonably be found liable for spectator injuries. The closest I can come is John Daly teeing off into a crowded grandstand (I can't find the video on Youtube, but I saw it somewhere on old sports program), but even he successfully pulled off the shot, and it sailed harmlessly over everyone's head.

 

That said, in this litigious country of ours, any moron can sue for any reason, so I would definitely buy a personal umbrella policy if I were a pro.

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big C View Post
 

I'm not an attorney, but I imagine that unless the pro was found to be willfully negligent, then getting hit is a risk that any spectator assumes when they step onto a golf course. Honestly, I can't imagine a scenario where a professional golfer would reasonably be found liable for spectator injuries. The closest I can come is John Daly teeing off into a crowded grandstand (I can't find the video on Youtube, but I saw it somewhere on old sports program), but even he successfully pulled off the shot, and it sailed harmlessly over everyone's head.

 

That said, in this litigious country of ours, any moron can sue for any reason, so I would definitely buy a personal umbrella policy if I were a pro.

Yeah, back in '93, in Portland, Oregon during a clinic. I don't know if there is video of this but I read about it in his (terribly written) auto-biography. The book is pretty sad as he just comes across as totally full of shit.

post #5 of 23
I would think not.

But for me it raises an interesting point. Why are the pros so lax in pointing out where the ball is heading? Every week you see pros hitting an errant tee shot that's heading for the crowd and they don't even so much as point.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by colin007 View Post

But for me it raises an interesting point. Why are the pros so lax in pointing out where the ball is heading? Every week you see pros hitting an errant tee shot that's heading for the crowd and they don't even so much as point.

On tee shots, they don't really have the full attention of the people in the fairway landing area to begin with ... it's just too far away.  Further, anybody who is paying attention to them is watching the ball, so once it's hit, there aren't really any eyes on them anyway.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamo View Post

I know at least when you go to MLB games, they tickets say that you are there at your own risk. They also constantly tell you to stay alert, surely to cover themselves.

I'd be very surprised if the PGA Tour doesn't have some sort of "at your own risk" policy as well.

Yeah, baseball tickets (and PA announcers, and signs in the parks) make it pretty clear that you are "at your own risk" when at a game.  There is no suing for getting smacked by a foul ball because you weren't paying attention.  (Unless, perhaps, you were sitting behind a screen that broke or something)

 

I don't have any old PGA tour tickets lying around, but I would bet that they have a similar disclaimer written on them somewhere.

post #7 of 23

As others have said, as a ticket holder you enter at your own risk and indemnify the course, golfers, etc from any legal action due to injury that is not considered negligent or intentional.  That said, you can bring a lawsuit against anyone and hope the defendant prefers to settle rather than go through the hassle of a court trial.  I could see some idiot claiming the Tiger intentionally aimed for the spectators on the right to avoid going into the water on the left.

 

The guy that got hit in the head by Tigers ball was messed up pretty bad, they just showed a quick shot of him, but his face was covered in blood.  Maybe they should hand out bike helmets.

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

I don't have any old PGA tour tickets lying around, but I would bet that they have a similar disclaimer written on them somewhere.

I think I commented to someone about that at the L.A. Open a few weeks ago... so I'm 99% sure they say that. I'll look for my tickets tomorrow if people want a full confirmation.
post #9 of 23

It always amazes me when people get hit at the courses during tournaments.  You are at a golf course! Pay Attention!

post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

It always amazes me when people get hit at the courses during tournaments.  You are at a golf course! Pay Attention!

I would think someone could be paying attention and still get hit. Maybe they lose track of the ball? Or can't move fast enough?
post #11 of 23

My guess (and it's only a guess) is that the entity that's most likely to be sued successfully is the Tour or event organizers that are responsible for crowd control instead of a player. Sometimes the "ropes" that hold back the crowds along each side of the fairway are definitely nowhere close to far enough back to keep the spectators out of a reasonable expectation of danger.

 

I've jokingly said for years that I bet those crowds wouldn't want to line a fairway where I was teeing off. My duck hooks would clear those out pretty quickly. They would be pretty safe on the right side but no place down the left side would be safe. 

 

There's a million miles of difference between my skill and their skill but they can occasionally hit shots just as bad and their ball is moving faster.

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post
 

It always amazes me when people get hit at the courses during tournaments.  You are at a golf course! Pay Attention!

I tried this during a Ryder Cup practice round at Medina a couple years ago to see if I could pick up the ball when standing out there near landing area distance.   Maybe it was the backdrop behind the players or something, but I could not pick the ball up off the players club for the life of me.  I have have pretty good eyesight as well.   I purposely placed myself near some trees just in case I could not see it.  Furyk hit one kind of close, and it was a good thing I was standing near the tree.  So question for anyone who has experience with this.  If you are standing out there near the fairway landing area when can you pick up the ball, at impact or when it is up in the air a bit?  

 

post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by cipher View Post
 

I tried this during a Ryder Cup practice round at Medina a couple years ago to see if I could pick up the ball when standing out there near landing area distance.   Maybe it was the backdrop behind the players or something, but I could not pick the ball up off the players club for the life of me.  I have have pretty good eyesight as well.   I purposely placed myself near some trees just in case I could not see it.  Furyk hit one kind of close, and it was a good thing I was standing near the tree.  So question for anyone who has experience with this.  If you are standing out there near the fairway landing area when can you pick up the ball, at impact or when it is up in the air a bit?  

 


I've only been to two Tour events and there's not a chance in the world of picking up every ball and paying attention 100% of the time (especially following a player like Tiger). People are moving around and somebody can easily block your view back down the fairway. Then the guy blocking your view ducks and you catch a ball with your ear.

post #14 of 23

I remember seeing a story a few years back about a lady at a Yankee's game that took a line drive foul to the face, messed her up pretty bad, multiple plastic surgery to repair the damage, she was on her own, Yankee's were under no legal obligation to help with the med bills

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoknows View Post
 

I remember seeing a story a few years back about a lady at a Yankee's game that took a line drive foul to the face, messed her up pretty bad, multiple plastic surgery to repair the damage, she was on her own, Yankee's were under no legal obligation to help with the med bills

 

One problem with trying to know what any particular court will say is that different judges and different juries have different opinions on negligence. You could take a similar case where maybe a club decided to put in some temporary seats down the foul line and all it takes is for a judge to allow it as crossing the line as foreseeable danger and then all bets are off.

 

Courts also don't put as much stock in written disclaimers put out by a business as the public thinks. A disclaimer is a good idea but it's not a free pass to make negligent decisions. For the most part fans are at their own risk but you can never say never when it comes to lawsuits. Usually liability takes somebody in charge making a decision that can be construed as unusual that results in a serious injury, like maybe somebody decides it's a good idea to move the ropes in to allow more spectators than what was done in the past. 

 

Chances for success are also increased if the serious injury is to a kid or someone that garners more public sympathy than usual.

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MS256 View Post
 

 

One problem with trying to know what any particular court will say is that different judges and different juries have different opinions on negligence. You could take a similar case where maybe a club decided to put in some temporary seats down the foul line and all it takes is for a judge to allow it as crossing the line as foreseeable danger and then all bets are off.

 

Courts also don't put as much stock in written disclaimers put out by a business as the public thinks. A disclaimer is a good idea but it's not a free pass to make negligent decisions. For the most part fans are at their own risk but you can never say never when it comes to lawsuits. Usually liability takes somebody in charge making a decision that can be construed as unusual that results in a serious injury, like maybe somebody decides it's a good idea to move the ropes in to allow more spectators than what was done in the past.

 

Chances for success are also increased if the serious injury is to a kid or someone that garners more public sympathy than usual.

 

There have been numerous cases where the courts have found for people injured at sporting events. But it is almost always a case of negligence at the event site (a failed railing, for example). I have never heard of anybody successfully suing for having been hit by a ball. The disclaimers are very effective in that regard, and it is virtually common knowledge that you are at your own risk when entering a sports event.

post #17 of 23

The legal disclaimer on the back of PGA Tour event ticket has this language (adjusted for the specific event):


"By utilizing this ticket or entering onto the grounds of the Tournament you voluntarily assume all risk and danger incidental to the game of golf , whether occurring prior to, during or subsequent to the actual event, and release PGA TOUR Inc., the host site, title sponsor, presenting sponsor, television broadcasters, vendors, volunteers, Bruno Event Team, LLC, Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, participating players, and all agents thereof from any all liabilities resulting from such cases. It is further understood and agreed that this waiver, release and assumption of risk is binding on your heirs and assigns."

 

Getting hit by a golf ball is an inherent risk of the sport.

 

A far more interesting legal question would be what recourse do you have if you are walking next to a golf course and some guy slices a ball out of bounds and it plunks you on the head.  In that case, I assume you would have some legal recourse.

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

It always amazes me when people get hit at the courses during tournaments.  You are at a golf course! Pay Attention!

I've never been to a tournament but I would have to imagine that it is very difficult to see the ball come off the club face when your are 300 yards away near a landing area.
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