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FORE! Golf Related Injury Cases in Indiana

William W. Hurst, Indiana Injury Lawyer

It is warming up which means that many sports seasons will be starting up golferor already in full swing and now is the time if the year to hit the Links. While golf can be an exciting way to stay active and can be fun to play or watch but you must be very careful when watching or participating in these sports in Indiana.  Recently, Indiana Courts have limited a plaintiff’s recovery for serious personal injury as a matter of law because of the inherent risk associated with the Sport or Activity.

Each year, nearly 40,000 golfers are admitted to emergency rooms after being injured at play, most by errant golf balls and flying club heads.  Many of these injuries are caused by inexperienced or novice golfers so it is important that you do everything you can do to protect yourself while on a golf course because often it is difficult to tell which golfers have more experience.

 

Indiana Cases

Recently, Indiana Courts have limited a plaintiff’s recovery in a golf related injury case. Pfenning v. Lineman, 947 N.E.2d 392 (Ind. 2011).  In Pfenning, The Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion on a case involving a golfing injury.  In Pfenning, the Plaintiff, a minor, was struck in the mouth by a golf ball while operating a beverage cart at a golf outing. She filed suit against the golfer who hit the ball and struck her, the tavern that promoted the event, the fraternal lodge that owned and operated the golf course, and her grandfather who brought her to the event. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the dismissal against the golfer that struck the ball and the property owner (fraternal lodge) but held that there were some issues precluding dismissal against grandfather and the tavern. In doing so, the court created a new standard regarding sporting activities:

There are three principal elements in a claim for negligence: duty, breach of duty, and a proximately caused injury. When there is no genuine issue of material fact and any one of these elements is clearly absent, summary judgment is appropriate. But rather than focusing upon the inherent risks of a sport as a basis for finding no duty, which violates Indiana statutory and decisional law, the same policy objectives can be achieved without inconsistency with statutory and case law by looking to the element of breach of duty, which is determined by the reasonableness under the circumstances of the actions of the alleged tortfeasor. We hold that, in negligence claims against a participant in a sports activity, if the conduct of such participant is within the range of ordinary behavior of participants in the sport, the conduct is reasonable as a matter of law and does not constitute a breach of duty. In any sporting activity, however, a participant’s particular conduct may exceed the ambit of such reasonableness as a matter of law if the “participant either intentionally caused injury or engaged in [reckless] conduct.” Such intentional or reckless infliction of injury may be found to be a breach of duty.

Pfenning v. Lineman, 947 N.E.2d 392, 404 (Ind. 2011). Therefore, if you are struck by an errant golf ball while golfing in the State of Indiana or similar jurisdiction and it causes a serious or traumatic injury you may not be able to recover from the individual that hit the ball and/or the course owner and operator.  In most cases, those will be the only two parties against who you may have a cause of action so be sure that you are familiar with the Course and your surroundings as you are golfing.

Another scenario that sometimes comes up is bringing suit against a golf course due to either the design or maintenance of their course. Cases such as these are often unsuccessful in Indiana. In the case of Lincke v. Long Beach Country Club, 702 N.E.2d 738 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998) the court held:

Golfer who injured while standing in rough when he was struck by a ball hit by golfer playing another hole sued country club for failure to maintain golf course in reasonably safe condition… The Court of Appeals… held that evidence did not establish that configuration of parallel holes was dangerous or that country club had knowledge that layout was dangerous.

 

Statistics

A study from several years ago suggests that approximately 60% of professional golfers along with 40% of amateur golfers have suffered either a traumatic or overuse injury. Even with these statistics, golf is seen as a “low-risk” sport that men and women can continue to participate in well into their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. Still, even as a low-risk sport, in 2009 alone there were over 55,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms.  Therefore, even though it can be considered relatively safe there are certain things that a participant or spectator can do to protect themselves while on the golf course.

 

How to Avoid Injury on A Course

Some things that you can do to avoid injury at or while golfing include paying close attention to the ball when you see or hear a hit so you can react to a close call. Listening is important too because you can generally hear a “Fore” on the golf course. If you are golfing try to stay in your cart unless you are swinging your club or warming up and never hit the ball if you can see that the people in front of you are close enough to get struck by a ball.  The most important thing that you can do is to pay attention to your surroundings and be vigilant to avoid a serious injury.

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FAQs
Our Fees

It cost $0 up front to hire our office. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we settle your case or obtain a verdict on your behalf.

If we’re unable to obtain a settlement of verdict for you we eat the costs we’ve advanced to litigate your case, which includes costs for ordering medical records, filing your case, hiring experts, deposing witnesses, and many other things.

If we do settle your case or obtain a verdict for you our standard rate is 33% of the settlement or verdict, plus reimbursement for the expense we’ve previously advanced. Our fee never increases like some personal injury attorneys, even if we have to take your case to trial.

Our Fees

It cost $0 up front to hire our office. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we settle your case or obtain a verdict on your behalf.

If we’re unable to obtain a settlement of verdict for you we eat the costs we’ve advanced to litigate your case, which includes costs for ordering medical records, filing your case, hiring experts, deposing witnesses, and many other things.

If we do settle your case or obtain a verdict for you our standard rate is 33% of the settlement or verdict, plus reimbursement for the expense we’ve previously advanced. Our fee never increases like some personal injury attorneys, even if we have to take your case to trial.

Case Worth

As a victim, establishing damages, negotiating with the insurance company, or filing a lawsuit can be daunting and next to impossible without the assistance of an experienced lawyer. As a result, if you have been hurt in an accident, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled under Indiana law.

Why Hire?

Choosing an attorney that has experience dealing with personal injury law is important to protect your legal rights. If you are trying to recover damages from a business or other type of organization, you can bet that they are going to have a legal team on their side.

Medical Bills

If you were injured by an accident you may be struggling to determine who is responsible for paying your medical bills and holding them accountable. Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of William W. Hurst and learn if we may be able to help.

Recovery

After you have been injured, you are entitled to compensation. The type and amount of compensation depends on the injury, bills, the cause of the injury, negligence/bad faith of the defendant, etc. The attorney you retain can also heavy influence your recovery through knowledge, experience, and dedication. Legal terms and phrases can be confusing even after you retain an attorney. If you have been injured, you may wonder how much your case is worth or what your “damages” are. The worse the injuries, the higher the value of the case and the greater need for an experienced attorney