Thousands of Floridians flock to golf courses each day. Many believe that a day without golf is a day without pleasure. If you love playing golf, however, you need to remember that golf can be a dangerous pastime. Nationwide, around 40,000 golfers receive a golf injury each year for which they must seek medical treatment.
Most golf injuries fall within one of the following four categories:
- Errant golf ball injuries
- Golf club injuries
- Golf cart injuries
- Clubhouse and property injuries
Errant golf ball injuries
It goes without saying that a golf ball can be a dangerous “weapon.” Given the speed at which one travels and the fact that no one can predict precisely where it will go, the consequences could be catastrophic if one hits you. Depending on where the ball hits your body, it could blind you, give you a traumatic brain injury, break one of your bones or even kill you.
The golf course owner and operator must exercise ordinary care in ensuring that you and your golf buddies remain reasonably safe while on the course. Not only does this include properly designing and maintaining the course so as to minimize the possibility of a fall, it also includes such things as promulgating and enforcing safety rules and properly training employees, including caddies. With respect to errant golf ball injuries, the golf course owner’s liability does not rest on the fact that shanked and other shots are foreseeable, but rather whether or not the course itself subjects you to hazards and dangers above those inherent in the game of golf.
Golf club injuries
If another golfer hits you with his or her club, this, too, can result in catastrophic injuries, up to and including death. Here the liability rests on the golfer whose club hit you. Hurling a club in a fit of anger over a missed, muffed or simply lousy shot is a recipe for disaster.
Golf cart injuries
You likely are unaware of it, but in Florida, a golf cart is classified as a motor vehicle. It also falls within the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. If you become the victim of a golf cart accident, you may be able to sue any or all of the following:
- The cart’s driver
- The cart’s manufacturer
- The cart’s seller
- The cart’s servicer
- The golf course owner or operator
If you are like most golfers, those 19th hole festivities are nearly as important as the game itself. Here again, however, injuries can occur. As with all people responsible for buildings where you and other members of the public are invited, the golf course owner and operator owe you a duty of reasonable care in assuring your safety. This means, among other things, that if you slip, trip or fall on a wet floor or in a poorly lighted stairwell, you can sue them. It also means that if someone mugs you in the parking lot, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries because the owner and/or operator failed to provide adequate lighting and/or security.
While golfing is great exercise and great fun, always remember that accidents can and do happen. Never neglect your own responsibility to remain aware of your surroundings and do your part to make your golf outing a safe and enjoyable experience for all concerned.