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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Default Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: Georgia

    As the title suggests, my car was hit by a badly hit golf ball. I was standing at the car putting my bag away with my golf buddy, talking... All of a sudden I hear the bang of the ball hitting my quarter panel to which I was standing about 1 foot away from toward the drivers side door. I slumped down and picked up the ball, jumped in the cart and went in the direction of the tee box.

    When I got to the tee box, there where three players standing there, one hitting. I yell down and ask if anyone just lost a titleist with three dots marked on it. One guy identified himself as the hitter. I said, it hit my car and dented the panel and asked him if we could sort this out. He said to give him a minute and he'd be up at the club house.

    A few minutes later he shows up and I show him the ding and we walk inside. He asks the guy behind the counter if they would pay for the damage, to which they said no that it would be up to us to work it out. So I ask to exchange information and he gives me his drivers license and I give him mine and I took a photo of it. Now I ask him for his auto insurance car (not sure if they'd pay, but I figured the more the information the better), he says sure, let me see yours. I declined to give him my card, to which he declined to me his card.. So I say, someone needs to pay for this and he starts to get a little upset and says that I may have to claim this on my insurance and I say to him, why would I do this, since he's the one that hit my car. So he causes a scene in the place and says quite loudly *go F off* and storms out the door. He had been drinking quite a bit, sluring and the works. I get out side, and him and his buddies are standing there waiting for me. He gets a bit braver and starts cussing at me tell me hes about to handle this like a "man" because I didn't let him see my insurance car. Then proclaims I wouldn't bet getting *sh_T", and they hop in the cart and leave.

    I go back inside with my golf buddy and I call the sheriffs department to see if they can help out. They come out and refuse to make a report, fine.. But they compel him to give me his insurance information. So now I have a copy of his DL, his phone number and his auto insurance policy number, and one very irate golfer. So I go to leave and he pulls up next to my car and says he's never talking to me again (very drunkenly), and goes on my way.

    Now the back side of the parking lot is parallel with the hole. From where my car was hit is about 100-150 yards from the tee box and for him to hit my car it either went over the top of some large Leyland Cyprus trees, or he had a very bad left fade that hooked around the trees from the fairway. Both are possible. My car was not parked in the spots along the hole, but over in front of the club house. Even the cops that showed up had a hard time figuring out how the ball hit my car from that angle, it certainly wouldn't have normally happened, but there we were..

    My question is of liability. Do I have a case if this guy refuses to pay. I don't think this guy is of too low character (other than getting drunk and wanting to fight me over an insurance card), it seems according to county tax info he owns the house listed on his DL. I'm thinking he might have just had too much to drink and had a bad day. But if he refuses, and I choose to take him to small claims court would I win based on this information? There is likely 2-500 in damages if I had to guess, a lot less than my insurance deductible. I think based on where I parked I would have been safe from balls, and he certainly admitted to doing the deed, but it IS a golf course so I don't know if I loose my property rights due to golf ball damage the moment I pull into the parking lot or not, which is why I am here now..

    Thanks in advance..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    372

    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    Sounds like a straight-forward small claims case. It's called Magistrates Court in Georgia. The drunk golfer sounds liable in your tale. Don't know how he'll defend. So get a few repair estimates and write a business-like letter requesting payment based on the estimates. If he doesn't respond sue. Remember that winning is easy, collecting is hard.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    his car insurance has nothing to do with this. he was not in his car when it happened.

    but if you go to court, what is the basis of your claim? To prevail you must state a basis for which the other golfer would be found liable. You generally have to prove either it was intentional, he acted recklessly, or he was negligent. Which would you pick?

    Then, you have the assumed risk doctrine that you must overcome as well. You do play the game so you would know if your car was within range of an errant ball and if you parked your car within range of an errant ball, it can be argued you assumed the risk of your car being damaged.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    Quote Quoting golfguy
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    So now I have a copy of his DL, his phone number and his auto insurance policy number
    You wasted your time and effort getting his car insurance information.

    Think about it. Was he operating a motor vehicle when he hit the ball? No, of course not. So why would you think auto insurance?

    Anyway, that type of liability is Personal Liability and is addressed by homeowners insurance.

    At this point all you can do is send him an estimate with a demand letter and then sue him if he doesn't pay.

    However, don't be surprised if you lose in court as there is an Assumption of Risk involved when you participate in golf on a golf course.

    Read the following article and you'll see why.

    http://apps.americanbar.org/buslaw/b...04/minan.shtml

    The article does not mention Georgia but it does appear that Georgia follows the same doctrine:

    "people who are on a golf course must assume the risk of being injured from a defected or hooked or sliced ball."

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...en&as_sdt=4,11

    Yes, it's a case from 1958 but I found no subsequent cases regarding the issue so it is likely that modern courts would rely on that case as being precedential, especially given the similar rulings in other parts of the country.

    JK got in before I finished my post but now you have the case citation that supports my contention that you are likely to lose in court.

    One thing that might be in your favor is if you can PROVE (not just say) that he was playing golf while drunk but you'd better be able to trot witnesses into court to testify as to his behavior, perhaps even subpoena whoever was serving him liquor that day.

    In other words, it's going to get real complicated trying to get $200 to $500 out of him if you have to take him to court.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    5

    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    I think in this case it'd be easy to prove my car was safe.. As there are a set of large trees in front of where I parked that his hook had to go around to get to.. It was really a freak shot to get to my car.. He was obviously drunken given that he wanted to fight me.. I'll bring that up in court and I do have witness. My story is solid, I don't think any judge wouldn't believe that someone plays golf might be drunk, and after I told him what happened it should be clear.. An errant ball would have to have went from the tee box to the club house, up hill, 150 yards.. I can show this via pictures and google maps, it'd be a rare chance I'd get hit where I parked.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    Quote Quoting golfguy
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    I think in this case it'd be easy to prove my car was safe.. As there are a set of large trees in front of where I parked that his hook had to go around to get to.. It was really a freak shot to get to my car.. He was obviously drunken given that he wanted to fight me.. I'll bring that up in court and I do have witness. My story is solid, I don't think any judge wouldn't believe that someone plays golf might be drunk, and after I told him what happened it should be clear.. An errant ball would have to have went from the tee box to the club house, up hill, 150 yards.. I can show this via pictures and google maps, it'd be a rare chance I'd get hit where I parked..
    so, intentional, recklessness, or negligence. The onus is upon you to provide a cause of action and simply being hit with a golf ball is not such. Once you state a cause of action, it is upon you to make your case as to how your claims caused the incident such that the guy would be liable for the damages. If you cannot do that you will lose.

    I said the known risk was something you would have to overcome. That is critical in two of the three causes of action I named. If you admit you cannot drive a ball over 150 yards you might do that but unless you are a really poor player and play with only poor players, you know 150 yards is not a big deal.

    what does being drunk have to do with anything? There is value, for you, in the fact he was drunk but simply telling the judge he was drunk is meaningless.


    My story is solid, I don't think any judge wouldn't believe that someone plays golf might be drunk, and after I told him what happened it should be clear..
    we know what happened; the guy hit a lousy drive and it hit your car. That is not in question but you have to show he should be liable for the damage. What is your basis for claiming he is liable? Simply hitting your car with a ball is not the answer.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2015
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    5

    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    The guy hit my car through actions of his own.. He should have hit the ball down the fairway but instead he hit it up to the club house... He hit the ball that damaged my car... How can he not be responsible and I be responsible for damage that he caused to my car.. This doesn't make sense to me.. I've parked 100 times at a club house and never had my car hit by a golf ball. I didn't have any different expectation this time.. I'm not a lawyer, if someone can explain this in laymans terms I would appreciate it.

  8. #8
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    Jun 2013
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    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    It isn't that complicated. If he was simply playing golf, in a reasonable manner, hit a terrible shot, and damaged your car, he is not liable. If he intentionally hit the ball towards your car, was being reckless, or negligent then he is liable. There is a certain amount of risk in parking next to a golf course, golfers regularly hit terrible shots. By parking in this area you accepted that it was possible your car could be damaged. From your description it sounds like you picked a spot that minimized the likelihood your car could be hit, however you did not eliminate it.

    From my perspective, the fact that you immediately identified a tee box that this ball likely came from suggests that it is reasonable to assume it was simply a bad shot. Unless you have a witness who observed him playing drunk, and that his being drunk caused him to be unable to keep the ball on the course then I think you are out of luck. If you do have such a witness, then you may be able to make the argument that his playing drunk was reckless, and that is what caused the damage.

    To give you another way to look at it, imagine a park with baseball fields, and parking beyond the outfield fence. If a player hits a homerun and damages a car then he is not liable, even if he hits a pop fly, that goes over the backstop and damages a car behind him, he is still not liable. However if he is throwing balls from the field at cars (intentional) or if a grown man is taking batting practice on a tee ball field, knowing that all the balls are going well over a fence designed for little kids (reckless) then he would likely be found liable.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    Quote Quoting golfguy
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    The guy hit my car through actions of his own.. He should have hit the ball down the fairway but instead he hit it up to the club house... He hit the ball that damaged my car... How can he not be responsible and I be responsible for damage that he caused to my car.. This doesn't make sense to me.. I've parked 100 times at a club house and never had my car hit by a golf ball. I didn't have any different expectation this time.. I'm not a lawyer, if someone can explain this in laymans terms I would appreciate it..
    You haven't read a single thing anybody has said, have you? Liability does not attach simply because hit the ball that hit your car. You have to show he was negligent, reckless, or acted intentionally for him to be liable.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Who is Liable for Car Damage Caused by a Golf Ball

    Quote Quoting jk
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    You haven't read a single thing anybody has said, have you? Liability does not attach simply because hit the ball that hit your car. You have to show he was negligent, reckless, or acted intentionally for him to be liable.
    Ditto.

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