Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

Damage caused by a golf ball.

If, when playing on a golf course the players ball causes damage to a person, structure, car or other property on or off the course, is the golfer liable for damages?

Asked on 7/23/08, 7:43 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Mccoy Law Office Of Robert McCoy

Re: Damage caused by a golf ball.

Maybe. It is surprising that one ball could cause all that damage. He probably has a defense that the damage was unforeseable and therefore he cannot be held liable for all of it.

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Answered on 7/24/08, 5:07 pm
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: Damage caused by a golf ball.


If the player who hit the ball intended to harm someone, then he can be held liable for whatever harm he caused -- even if it was different from what he intended.

The analysis gets a bit murkier if the harm was the result of a negligent act by the golfer.

If the injured party assumed the risk of such injury (by walking on the golf course, for example, or parking where it was foreseeable that the car might be hit with a golf ball) then he cannot complain that it happened -- unless it was done intentionally.

It is also possible for something like this to happen without any negligence by the golfer, especially if the injured person was negligent in a way that caused the injury. (For example, by ignoring the call of "Fore!" as the ball sailed toward him.)

If both the golfer and the victim were negligent and if both of their negligence contributed to the harm, then the golfer would only be responsible for the portion of the harm attributable to him. A judge or jury would have to make that determination.

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Answered on 8/06/08, 8:43 pm
Robert L. Bennett Law offices of Robert L. Bennett

Re: Damage caused by a golf ball.

Only if there is negligence involved.

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Answered on 7/25/08, 4:38 am
Russell Kohn Kohn Law Office

Re: Damage caused by a golf ball.

As usual, the answer would depend on the specific facts. Generally speaking, there would likely be liability for either intentional or reckless conduct. As for negligence, the golfer is usually protected by the assumption of the risk doctrine. In other cases, negligence is hard to find since hitting a bad shot is part of the game and not negligent. I recommend that you read the August 2007 California Supreme Court case Shin v. Ahn which discusses much of the law on golfers' liability in the state of California. In this case, the court held that a golfer could be liable for hitting another golfer if the golfer hitting the ball acted recklessly.

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Answered on 9/10/08, 7:12 pm

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