Who is liable?
By mustang6560 on 9/17/12
If you attend a golf tournament and you get hit in the head by a golf ball, do you deserve to be compensated for your damages?

Well, a Wyoming man asking that very question just received a favorable ruling from the Wyoming Supreme Court, which sent his appeal back to district court for reconsideration.

In 2006, James Creel was hit in the head by a golf ball during the Wyoming Open Golf Tournament. The hit knocked him unconscious and as a result he suffered a brain injury and "numerous inner ear injuries", which cost him thousands of dollars in medical bills.
The lawsuit centered on the inherent risks of watching a golf tournament in person.

A state law called the Wyoming Recreational Safety Act states that anybody who participates in a sport or recreational activity assumes legal responsibility for injuries they get as a result of risks inherent to that activity. In this case, Creel was considered a participant in golf even though he was a spectator.

The tournament was somewhat informal for golf, with spectators following groups of players around on the course. Spectators were not cordoned off from the players.

The district judge found that flying golf balls are an inherent risk at golf tournaments. But the Supreme Court found that some questions still needed to be answered before the lawsuit can be resolved.
It's a tricky situation because while I agree an individual is responsible for his or her own actions, I'd like to think someone who is unlucky enough to be struck by a golf ball (which hurts!) wouldn't be hung out to dry. If I was hit in the head by a golf ball at a golf tournament and had to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills, I'd be in a financial pickle!

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Image via Flickr, jurvetson

[ comments ]
mjaber says:
Same as getting hit with a foul ball, or having a basketball player land in your lap. Pay attention to what is going on around you. If this guy had enough money to hire a lawyer, he had enough money to pay his medical bills.
bkuehn1952 says:
Reading the lawsuit, the player that hit Creel told the starter that it was not safe for him to tee off since he could hit the green. The starter told him to proceed as the tournament was running behind. It has also been alleged that the player who hit Creel did not yell "fore" or otherwise warn anyone of the errant shot.

I tend to agree that once you enter a golf course, it is up to you to watch out. However, intentionally hitting into the group in front and possibly not giving any warning goes beyond mere incompetent play.
Matt McGee says:
It seems like the details would be important, and that's probably why the decision isn't final. The things that Brian points out could make a big difference. It's a lot easier to see a foul ball or a basketball player flying at your head than it is to see a golf ball in the air... especially if there isn't any warning ahead of time. I would think it reasonable to expect a warning from an official, or from the golfer.
H Head says:
Lawyers who take these cases get paid only if there is a settlement, so maybe he didn't have enough money to pay his medical bills. It's funny, if a golfer breaks a window he has to pay for it...break a head and walk away clean //// lol
joe jones says:
If I am not mistaken at PGA events the back of the ticket has a disclaimer or waiver note. Correct me if I'm wrong.
falcon50driver says:
Lawyers will tell you any disclaimer notice is worthless. It just keeps the casual litigators from going forward. Someone who wants to sue will sue no matter what. Common sense never enters the picture, It's all about how the lawyers can twist it. The difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One is a bottom feeding scum sucker , and the other is a fish.
Kurt the Knife says:
I say like it or not, if you walk on a golf course ur taking ur life in ur hands.
At least when I'm playing you are.
[ post comment ]
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