Errant Golf Ball Damage… Who is Liable?

juuyyWho is responsible for damages when a golfer hits a ball that in turn hits a house or a car causing damage when playing a course that is located around a residential area or a busy street?
This question is NOT as black and white as it may appear. The law varies from state to state and from case to case.
In most cases if you ask the golfer, he will say it is the homeowner and should be covered on their homeowners insurance. In other cases if you ask the homeowner he will say the golfer is responsible. You also have to catch the golfer!
There is clear California case law on these points of law. However, if the golfer intentionally or recklessly hits a ball at a home/car, then the golfer may be responsible. Also, there may be rules that members of golf clubs consent to be bound by that contractually put responsibility for damage on the golfer regardless of responsibility under tort law. Check the golf course rules.
If you are playing golf and hit a home or a car which is parked in a parking lot adjacent to the golf course or driving down a nearby street with your golf ball, normally you are responsible. Many courses and near-by buildings do have insurance in place to cover it, so check that as well if the issue cannot be resolved.
If your home or car is hit and you are in the position of not knowing who hit the golf ball, you can ask the golf course if their insurance will pay for your damages, but typically this would be excluded. If the golf course will not take responsibility for the damages then you will likely need to put in a claim with your physical damages portion of your insurance policy.
Comprehensive coverage will normally cover damage. You will need to pay the deductible associated with this coverage There are several ways you can protect yourself from getting hit in the pocketbook.
It is advisable that before you buy, look at where the house is in relation to the hole. If the home is behind the tee box, it’s unlikely to get hit. But it’s going to get hit all the time if it’s 150 to 250 yards out on the right. Why is this? Because most bad golfers are habitual slicers.
If you live on a golf course, you assume risk. Contact your insurance agent to see if your personal liability coverage on your homeowner’s insurance would pay for “damage to property of others.” There will be a dollar limit stated in your policy.

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson

As Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well.  Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor.  Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver.  Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor.  She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.

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