Can my golf swing get me sued?

At one time or another, every golfer has seen his or her ball take off in the wrong direction. Depending on the course layout, a bad swing can potentially put other golfers at risk of injury. So what happens if your golf ball hits someone? Can you be held responsible for any harm caused?

The North Carolina Supreme Court considered this issue in the case of McWilliams v. Parham. 273 N.C. 592. In this 1968 case, the Court ruled that “it is the duty of a person hitting a golf ball to exercise ordinary care under existing circumstances for the safety of others.” The Court went on to state that this duty requires a golfer to provide “adequate and timely notice to persons who appear to be unaware of his intention to hit the ball when he knows, or by the exercise of ordinary care should know, that such persons are so close to the intended flight of the ball that danger to them might be reasonably anticipated.”

In the McWilliams v. Parham opinion, the Court made several references to the rules and customs of golf and found that there was a question as to whether the defendant in that case had followed these standard practices. Thus, it would appear that neglecting the common courtesies of golf is not only bad manners, but may also get you sued if someone is injured!

While no additional cases have fully fleshed out the circumstances that can lead to a golf-related personal injury claim, it is best to use every precaution before taking a swing. Follow the rules of golf and respect your fellow golfers. As in all circumstances, you should avoid unreasonable actions that could put another person in harm’s way. A healthy dose of common sense and good judgment can go a long way in protecting you from liability.

If you have questions about personal injury matters, contact Dozier Miller’s personal injury counsel:

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