Who Pays After a Golf Ball Breaks My Window?
RE Q&A: A golf community condo owner hasn’t had a problem in 20 years but a new owner moved the tee boxes. Does that make them responsible for damage?
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: I have lived in a condo next to a golf course for 20 years and have never had an issue with a golf ball damaging our building. The golf course was recently sold, and the new owner renovated and moved the tee boxes around. Last week I came home to a broken dining room window caused by an errant golf ball. There have been several other hits to the building recently. I spoke with the course manager about the problem, but nothing changed. Do I have any recourse? – Michael
Answer: Depending on where you live, you accept some negatives along with the benefits. Living on a golf course means you have a great view, but it also means living with golf balls and the golfers who hit them.
Golfers must take care when playing and can be held responsible if they are negligent. However, even pro golfers sometimes hit wild shots.
When you buy a house next to a golf course, you accept the risk of errant shots. A golfer taking ordinary care who accidentally hit your building would not be legally responsible for the damage caused. That said, the golfer could have owned up to the damage and offered to pay for it.
Your situation is different because you and your neighbors only started having this issue when the new owner rearranged the course. Under the previous layout, you never had this problem which suggests that the new course is designed in a way that created a risk that was not there before. The course should have been laid out to avoid this issue or precautions taken to protect the neighbors.
You should present the bill for your new window and ask the golf course to pay for the damage they caused.
You should also request they fix the problem that the new design caused, such as by putting up some netting or moving the tee box.
If they do not comply with your simple request, you and your neighbors may want to speak with an attorney about compelling them to do so.
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