The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest competitions in golf. It is short-lived, but the fierce rivalry ensures it makes headlines around the world. In 2018, however, it was making headlines for something other than golf when a spectator was hit by a stray golf ball and left with severe injuries.
The spectator in question lost sight in one eye, and reports confirmed that she suffered a “fracture of the right eye” and an – don’t read this over your morning cornflakes – “explosion of the eyeball.” She was clearly traumatised and deeply affected by the event, (I feel traumatised just reading the words “exploding eyeball”) and claimed that she would sue.
But would she actually have a case?
Would She Have a Case?
The ball was hit by Brooks Koepka, an American, but the Ryder Cup was staged in France. If it had been staged in the US then this likely wouldn’t be a question. There are many personal injury lawyers in every town and city, and it’s a very litigious country where those who suffer harm usually get the compensation they deserve. Take a look at this page by a Santa Rosa Personal Injury Lawyer to see just how common such claims are and how much money they can get for the claimants.
However, France is a different story and it seems that unless the injured party can prove negligence on behalf of the course, then she may not have a case. And that’s not easy to do.
I’m personally not a big fan of golf. I am a big sports fan, from Soccer to Aussie Rules and from Snooker to UFC. But golf has just never appealed to me. One thing that is always on my mind whenever I see golf on the TV (usually when I’m channel surfing and mistake it for something more interesting) is how close to the action spectators are and how much risk they are putting themselves in.
In the UK alone there are over 12,000 accidents on a golf course every year, over 3,000 of which involve golf balls. That begs two questions, first, how the hell are the other 9,000 people injuring themselves and second, if this is so common then surely there would be a lot of precedent for personal injury claims?
In actual fact they are few and far between. Strangely enough, it seems that if the person hitting the ball calls “fore,” then they are providing a sufficient warning. If the course has also erected signs warning about the potential dangers, then there may be little chance of a successful claim.
I find it hard to believe that the professional player in question shouted “fore” before the ball went on to explode someone’s eyeball, but at the same time I find it hard to believe that someone would be able to claim injury when they were willingly standing in harm’s way like so many spectators before them. Sure, it was horrible and I hope she gets a claim for it, but my money is on the course’s legal team finding a way out of this one.
On the flip side, if a claim is successful then it could be a precedent that changes how golfing tournaments are organised in the future.
Maybe they’ll get rid of the sport completely and Sky will show more snooker instead. I can only hope.