Golf course owners must uphold a safe environment for players and guests, ensuring the course’s design, maintenance, and operations minimize risks. Injured parties have the right to seek compensation when owners fail to uphold this basic duty.

A lawyer with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can help if you’ve been hurt on a golf course due to the oversight or carelessness of the owner or other party. Keep reading to learn about golf course injuries in Florida, then contact us at (561) 655-1990 today.

Two women taking their shoes off after suffering golf course injuries

What duties does a golf course owner have toward patrons?

Duty of care

Golf courses owe a duty of care to their patrons. This means they must take reasonable steps to ensure the golf course and any associated facilities are safe from hazards that could cause injury. This duty extends to the maintenance of the golf course, including the fairways, greens, cart paths, and any ancillary buildings like clubhouses or pro shops.

Foreseeable risk

A key aspect of golf course liability involves foreseeable risks or hazards. Golf courses are expected to warn players and guests about potential dangers that are not obvious, such as recently treated areas that may be slippery, holes or uneven terrain, and areas under repair. If a golf course fails to provide adequate warnings about such hazards, they could be liable for any resulting injuries.

Common types of golf course injuries

Injuries on golf courses vary widely, reflecting the range of activities and settings found in these environments. Some of the common injuries we see on golf courses include:

  • Golf ball and club injuries
  • Golf cart accidents
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Overuse and strain injuries
  • Sunburn and heat-related illnesses
  • Encounters with wildlife
  • Eye injuries

Legal considerations

Waivers and disclaimers

Many golf courses require players to sign waivers or disclaimers acknowledging the risks involved in golf and agreeing not to hold the course liable for certain injuries. While these waivers can protect golf courses, they are not absolute. Courts will scrutinize these documents to ensure they are not overly broad or unjust and do not absolve a course from liability for gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Contributory negligence

Florida follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, meaning that an injured party’s compensation can be reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the injury. For golf course injuries, this might mean evaluating the injured party’s awareness of the risks involved and their actions at the time of the accident.

Legal action and compensation

Individuals injured on a golf course in Florida can pursue legal action to recover damages for their injuries. This can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs. The success of such a claim will depend on establishing the golf course’s negligence and the direct link between that negligence and the injury suffered.

Assumption of risk on golf courses

In Florida, the assumption of risk law plays a critical role in cases involving golf course injuries. This legal doctrine means that when someone chooses to engage in an activity known to carry certain risks, they consent to those risks and cannot later hold others liable for injuries that occur as a natural part of that activity.

Implicit or explicit assumption of risk

The assumption of risk can be expressed or implied. Express assumption of risk occurs when individuals explicitly agree, often in writing, to assume the risk of an activity, such as signing a waiver before participating in a golf tournament. An implied assumption of risk is not stated verbally or in writing but is inherent in the activity itself—by participating in golf, players implicitly agree to the risks associated with flying golf balls and swinging clubs.

What does the assumption of risk look like?

Florida’s assumption of risk law means that if a golfer gets injured in a manner that is considered an inherent risk of playing golf (such as being hit by a stray golf ball), they may have limited legal recourse against the golf course or another player. The key factor is whether the risk was foreseeable and inherent to the game.

This does not mean golf courses or other parties have no duty of care towards players. Golf courses must maintain their premises reasonably safe and warn players of any known, non-obvious hazards if a golf course or its staff acts negligently—failing to maintain pathways, for instance, or not providing adequate warning about a dangerous condition on the course—an injured party may have grounds for a lawsuit, despite the assumption of risk doctrine.

Injured on a Florida golf course? We can help.

Negligent golf course owners can be held accountable under Florida premises liability law. If you were hurt on a course, work with us to hold the owner liable and prevent further injury among other players. Contact us online or call (561) 655-1990 today.