The popularity of golf in south Florida is undeniable. Thousands here choose to live in country club communities, those pleasant, gated neighborhoods or subdivisions that are centered around golf courses. Thousands more live adjacent to public courses and driving ranges. What happens, though, if golf balls slam into your home, your car, or in the worst-case scenario, if a golf ball causes a personal injury? A recent decision over a small claims court case illustrates who is responsible for what when the golf balls fly your way. If you’re injured by a stray golf ball in south Florida, seek the counsel of an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney. You may be able to file a personal injury claim against the operators of the golf facility and win reimbursement for expenses related to your injury.
In City of St. Petersburg vs. Brenda Gordon, a neighbor of the city-owned golf course tired of stray balls hitting her house and car. She had complained to the city multiple times and was finally fed up with the lack of interest in her complaints. She filed a small claims court lawsuit alleging negligent use, maintenance, and operation of the driving range area where the errant golf balls originated. A Pinellas County appeals judge upheld a lower court decision finding liability on the part of the city, which had claimed sovereign immunity from the suit. The judge rejected that contention and affirmed that government agencies that operate golf courses are clearly just as responsible for what happens on their property as a private course owner would be.
In some nations, citizens injured by their government have no legal recourse at all. In Florida and most other states, the state government will allow itself to be sued, but only in particular circumstances and only up to a certain cash amount. State governments cannot be sued simply for bad decisions; you can sue only when a decision is negligently implemented and results in an injury. For example, you can’t sue the state for building a highway that’s difficult to navigate, but if you’re injured because of bad lighting or because the lines between lanes were painted incorrectly, then you have grounds for a lawsuit.
When you sue the government in Florida, your damages are limited to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim. That may be sufficient in many cases, but the limit is a huge burden for the victims of catastrophic injuries. The only way to recover more is to file a claims bill. This is an actual bill filed in the Florida legislature, sponsored by a member.
Florida has more golf courses – over 1,250 – than any state in the nation, and right here in Palm Beach County, your chances of being injured by a stray golf ball, while remote, are still higher than anywhere else; we have more courses than any other county in the nation. If you suffer a personal injury due to a stray golf ball, get legal help, and speak at once to an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney.