Indiana has a rich golfing tradition.
It started in 1896, when a prominent resident introduced the game at the Indianapolis Country Club after watching it being played overseas. Hundreds of courses have been constructed here since that time. Some are quite unique. Brickyard Crossing has four of its 18 holes located inside the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Victoria National, a course known for its aesthetics, was once an abandoned strip mine. Golfers from across the country come to Indiana to enjoy our courses and clubs. But enjoyment can turn to misery when a player, spectator, or child gets hurt.
The personal injury lawyers at McNeely Stephenson help people who have been hurt in accidents at golf courses in Indiana. If you or a loved one was injured, contact us now to learn if you have a right to financial compensation.
How do Golfing Accidents Happen?
For a game that emphasizes precision, golf certainly has its share of mishaps. Here are some common causes of accidents on and around a golf course:
Golf balls weigh just over an ounce and a half. That is not much weight, but the small size of the balls and the velocity at which they travel make them extremely dangerous. Stray golf shots may cause injury to:
- Other golfers standing in front or to the side of the golfer in the tee box
- Golfers playing ahead on the same hole
- Golfers playing another hole, especially when the two fairways run parallel to each other in opposite directions
- People watching tournament play from the spectator gallery
- Pedestrians or anyone else who happens to be near the boundary of a golf course or driving range.
Balls that bounce off trees or other objects are just as dangerous as those that strike victims directly. They may be even more dangerous, since the trajectory of a ricochet ball is so unpredictable. Ricochets that occur at close range – when the ball’s velocity is greatest – have the most potential to cause injury.
Golf Club Swings
Golf balls may be dangerous, but at least they do not have edges. Clubs, on the other hand, have angular heads that can strike like a hammer, causing lacerations, blunt force trauma, and internal injuries. A swinging club can result in harm when:
- Someone standing within the swing radius gets hit (by the back swing or follow-through swing)
- The hosel of a club separates from the shaft during a swing, and the head of the club flies like a projectile toward the victim
- The shaft of a club snaps during the swing, causing the head to go flying with a jagged piece of the shaft still attached
- A golfer loses his or her grip on a club during the swing, sending the entire club flying toward the victim
- A child playing with a club in a manner unrelated to the game unintentionally strikes the victim.
Conditions on the Course
Business owners in Indiana have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to keep the premises free of dangerous conditions. The rule applies to golf courses. For example, if management knows (or has reason to know) there are rabbit holes in the rough, they must address the problem. Depending on the circumstances, a warning sign may be all that is necessary. But if management does nothing, and a golfer breaks an ankle while searching for a ball, the golf course could be liable.
Every golf course is unique, and so is every golf-related accident. Additional ways in which people get hurt playing the sport include:
- Slip and fall accidents, particularly around the edges of water hazards or on steep slopes when the grass is wet
- Accidents caused by “goofing around” on the course
- Physical fights between players
- A player throwing a golf club in anger after missing a shot
- Clubs or other equipment that was designed or manufactured with a dangerous defect
- Lightning strikes
- Drinking alcohol to excess, which can be a contributing factor in many types of golfing accidents.
Golf Ball-Related Ocular Injuries (GROIs)
Stray golf shots that strike victims in the head always carry the risk of a concussion or worse. Without question, though, the most catastrophic of these accidents occur when the ball strikes a victim in the eye. Golf ball-related ocular injuries, or GROIs, are common for two reasons:
- Golf balls have a 1.68-inch radius, making them small enough to partially penetrate a human eye socket.
- Inexperienced golfers and bystanders usually look upward when they hear the “fore!” warning shout (the proper reaction is to duck and cover).
A golf ball traveling more than 100 mph can cause immense damage to the soft tissue of a victim’s eyeball. Doctors may have no choice but to surgically remove the eye in this situation.
Golf Cart Crashes
Golf carts are not all that different from other types of vehicles driven on the streets of Indiana. There is at least one important difference, however. Federal vehicle safety regulations that govern regular automobiles do not apply. That means golf carts are not equipped with airbags, and some even lack seatbelts – the most basic of all vehicle safety features.
Besides their lack of crash protection, golf carts are often misused by the people who operate them. Many drivers and passengers take a cavalier attitude toward operation of the cart. Youth or inexperience is also a problem. Accidents may result from:
- Abrupt turns
- Turning while traveling down a steep slope
- Exceeding 15 mph
- Standing while the cart is in motion
- Dangling a foot or leg out the side of the cart
- Hanging onto the back of the cart
- Driving while distracted by a cellphone, scorecard, food, passenger, etc.
- Looking for a ball while driving
- Carrying too many passengers
- Collisions with other carts or street traffic
- Intoxicated driving
- Defective golf carts or golf cart parts.