Hit by stray golf ball on course

by Walter Olson on January 19, 2008

Crystal Timpanaro was sitting in a golf cart near the 16th tee at Owl’s Creek Golf Course in Virginia Beach watching her boyfriend play when a golfer at the 17th hole shanked a drive that hit her, per her lawsuit, which claims inadequate warning and misdesign of the course. (Deirdre Fernandes, “Woman struck by golf ball files suit, alleging design flaw in Beach course”, Virginian-Pilot, Jan. 5).

{ 7 comments }

1 keithmo 01.19.08 at 9:56 am

Wasn’t there a similar case a year or two ago? As I recall the judge denied the plaintiff’s claim based on “assumption of risk” — if you’re on a golf course, watch out for golf balls.

2 KB 01.19.08 at 12:52 pm

There was a similar case brought by another golfer who was hit on the course. My understanding is she claiming the course was designed negligently because the two fairways are too close together.

3 wavemaker 01.19.08 at 1:08 pm

There are hundreds of these cases from all over the country, and the rulings are all over the course (heh). They can be found here:
53 ALR 4th 282

Most of them turn on either assumption of risk or forseeability (predictably).

I played with a guy once who shanked off the tee and cracked a lady in the head. She sat down, asked us for a ride to the clubhouse and insisted that the other three ladies finish their round. That’s the spirit!! (This was in New Hampshire.)

4 John Rohan 01.20.08 at 3:38 am

Besides the ludicrious idea that you can’t expect the possibility of being hit by a ball on the golf course, there is something else that bothers me here. Quote from the article:

“I am aware of the incident, but it is our practice to let our insurance company handle this,” Troyer said.
She referred all questions to Hank Kellam with Towne Insurance.
When contacted, Kellam said he doesn’t handle the golf course’s claims and declined to say who does.

Why is it that plaintiffs always explain their case to the media, but defendants always say “they don’t comment on pending litigation”. This gives the public impression that someone is guilty, especially in stupid situations like the above.

5 Bumper 01.20.08 at 12:35 pm

There was a similar case in New Orleans a few years back. Jogger running by the City Park golf course, golfer’s ball wanted to say “Hi!” to the jogger’s balls and for once real pain and suffering ensued, but no permanent damage. Most would be too embarrassed to publicize such an event, but not this fellow, he sued the golf course. He ended up losing twice, once in the court of public opinion and then in the court of law. Verdict for the defendant.

6 nevins 01.20.08 at 2:42 pm

I’ll disagree with Bumper’s cited case. I’m all for assumption of the risk, but assumption has to stop somewhere. When on a public right of way near but not on a golf course the golfer and course must begin to be exposed for liability. A well hit ball can have a range of almost 1000 feet, and it is unreasonable to extend assumption beyond the borders of the course, especially to the potential range of a mis-hit ball.
It is perfectly legal to fire weapons on my rural property, but I doubt you would shrug off getting shot by me in passing by on the adjacent gravel road as assumption of the risk of being in a rural area.

7 dustydog 01.22.08 at 12:04 pm

There should be no assumption of risk for being on or near a golf-course. You are assuming too much knowledge as general knowledge. Most of the U.S. has never tried golf. The sport is so boring that you shouldn’t assume a normal person has ever watched it on TV enough to know the risks involved. A golf ball looks like a ping pong ball.

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