Question: In a previous column, you said that a golfer would have liability for striking a lady in the mouth (which required dental work) in her backyard if the golfer failed to yell “fore” before striking the golf ball. I, too, was struck in the head by a golf ball in the backyard of our Sun City home that resulted in six stitches and medical expenses. Although the golfer who hit this golf ball apologized immediately, I had to go to court because he later denied that he had hit the golf ball. Nine months later, I finally got a check from the golfer for my medical expenses. What I am most upset about in your previous column was the quote from a judge that people who “live on a golf course” may have to take some responsibility for errant golf balls. No one lives on a golf course, they only live beside or near a golf course. Our backyard is our land, and not the golf course’s land. My comeback to that judge would be that, if I am “driving down your street and accidentally drive my car into your house, is that what you get for living on a street?”
The problem that we continue to have as “innocent” homeowners is, who is responsible? If there is a foursome of golfers almost 200 yards away and I am struck by a golf ball, are all four responsible? The last time one of our windows was broken by a golf ball, I confronted the foursome of golfers, and they all gave me the “he went that-a-way” look. Each denied any personal responsibility, and we paid to fix the window ourselves. Do I have a claim against all four golfers for my broken window?
Answer: Unfortunately, you would only have a claim against the golfer who actually hit the errant golf shot. The other members of the foursome generally would not have joint and several liability to you for breaking your window.