I was driving down the road right next to a golf course and a stray ball hit my windshield and cracked it. Is the golf course liable for the damage? I mostly just want them to fix my windshield and would rather not turn it into a big ordeal. If I threatened to take them to court would they likely just offer a settlement?
Possibly but the easier course of action may be to just have your car insurance cover the loss. Many policies provide for zero deductible under these circumstances.
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The golf course would only have liability if they did something negligent (if balls are always flying onto the road, you could make the argument they knew of the hazard and should've prevented it). However, they would argue that they didn't control the golfer who hit the wayward ball and have no liability to you (and if this only happens rarely, they'd likely have much less of a duty, if they have any duty at all).
They may help you find the golfer and you could make a claim against him/her, but that could also be defended on "no negligence" in that mishitting a golf ball may not be considered to be negligence. I don't know if they would have homeowners insurance and/or if it would cover the claim. Even if homeowner's coverage is available, it could be the insurer has an exclusion and/or would want to fight the claim on the facts wherein you have to prove negligence.
Typically windshield damage is covered by your "Comprehensive" coverage on your auto policy and you may simply want to go that route as it is likely more direct and will involve less "hassle" on your part. Also many replacement glass providers don't require any deductible be paid on glass claims just to get the business.
You can contact them and see what they say. You might want to discuss it with your insurance agent.
Always consult an attorney IMMEDIATELY as there are time limitations on filing a lawsuit.
As someone who had to write an essay on this subject only five years ago, and also happened to shank a ball off a course into an oncoming car three years ago, I can tell you the golf course has insurance that will cover this. Also, whoever hit the ball is not liable. Different states may be different, but in Michigan, the course is liable for injuries to people and property when the golfer is using ordinary care in the course of the game. For a decent article discussing golf ball injuries with reference to Michigan case law, I suggest this: http://www.ngcoa.org/pdf/errant/Golf%20Course%20Liability.pdf
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