Golf courses are exposed to the same general liabilities as any other entity actively courting the public to its grounds. But unlike most of those entities, a golf course carries an additional and unique set of hazardous and unpredictable liabilities.
Some of these more potent liabilities involve the swinging of sticks (called clubs), the launching of projectiles at high speed and of uncertain trajectory (called golf balls), the driving of electric cars (called golf carts) on and off roadways – all of which can occur while consuming an alcoholic beverage. Furthermore, the calming effect of the surrounding environment, spirited social interaction and/or an intense preoccupation with swing technique or score leads many golfers to desensitize their natural self-preservation defenses. Even on the “safest” of golf facilities, it is only a matter of time until the combination of attitude and sport leads to an incident. When these incidents are severe enough to cause bodily injury and/or property damage, particularly if permanent and/or debilitating, the golf course is almost assuredly blamed – rightly or wrongly and could face legal ramifications.
Hurdzan Golf can help golf courses strengthen their case, both before or after a suit is filed, by applying what we have learned over our 40 years of sensitivity to the topic. As an expert witness in over 100 lawsuits, Mike Hurdzan has been asked to professionally opine on subjects ranging from murder to quadriplegia to blindness, and he remains disappointed at the breadth of misunderstanding, myth, and just plain bad information about golf course safety, security and risk management. Perhaps the worst of is the fallacious argument, “I’ve got insurance so therefore I’m protected.” Insurance is important, but only as the last step in a carefully crafted plan for safety, where emphasis is on prevention, not damage control. We work equally for plaintiffs and defendants, and we are as objective in our opinion as Lady Justice herself. Some broad areas of interest or personal knowledge include:
- Golf car accidents
- Golf car paths
- Golf car operations
- Non-golf car path accidents
- Golf ball strikes on the golf course
- Golf ball strikes off the golf course
- Driving range safety
- Golf club strikes
- Safety in design
- Safety in construction
- Safety in operations and maintenance
- Contractor damage
- Non-payment of contractors and subs
- Slip and fall accidents
- Armed robberies/murders on golf course
- Vandalism and malicious damage
- Unusual worker compensation claims
- Breach of contract
Safety, security and risk management became an area of personal interest for our Managing Partner Michael J. Hurdzan in the mid-1970s when a golf course that he and his business partner had designed was sued by an adjoining homeowner. The court subsequently ordered the offending golf hole at the heart of the case closed until a satisfactory resolution could be agreed upon. This seemingly benign ruling was a revelation to Hurdzan, for he had assumed that because the plaintiff had built his home on an existing course, that, in turn, the plaintiff assumed the major risk. It was evident that Hurdzan had a lot to learn about law, and proceeded to do just that – by studying the few authoritative texts on the topic of golf course safety, sensitivity and risk management, by accumulating a repository of case law surrounding these topics, and by extensively writing and lecturing on what he had learned. Further, Hurdzan draws upon his 23 years of various command appointments within the US Army, where was directly responsible for safety, security and risk management of his unit’s soldiers, their training and operations, their equipment, and the sequential process of incident mitigation.