A young woman went to play a round of golf to decompress after a long work week. While teeing off on the 8th hole, the woman recognized a former classmate who would tease and bully her relentlessly every day standing near the hole. Out of anger, the woman swung her club at the ball in hopes of hitting the former classmate. Instead, the woman hit a bystander driving a cart, causing her to crash into a cactus, which required surgical procedures to extract the needles that punctured her skin. To evaluate whether the bystander possesses a claim against the young woman, a personal injury attorney in Georgia should be consulted.
What does it take to be deemed negligent?
Under the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Liability for Physical Harm § 3 (P.F.D. No. 1, 2005), one must evaluate whether a person’s conduct, such as the woman’s in the example above, lacks reasonable care or the foreseeable likelihood a person’s conduct will result in harm. To establish negligence, the following elements are required:
- A legal duty to exercise reasonable care
- A failure to exercise reasonable care
- Physical harm due to the negligent conduct
- Proximate cause
- Physical harm in the form of actual damages
To recover from the woman, the bystander is required to demonstrate that the woman possessed a duty and breached that duty, causation and damages. The woman owes a duty to prevent foreseeable risks of harm from causing harm to foreseeable plaintiffs. In addition, the woman has a duty to other people on the golf course and in the surrounding area.
The woman’s duty is to act as a reasonable person while playing golf. Given the bystander was on the golf course in the woman’s vicinity, the bystander is a foreseeable plaintiff. A breach of the duty owed to the bystander occurred because a reasonable person playing golf would not purposely hit golf balls at other people.
The woman’s conduct of hitting the golf ball is a substantial factor in causing the bystander’s injury, and an intervening cause between the woman’s negligent act and the bystander’s injury is non-existent. The woman’s breach of duty caused physical injury to the bystander and, therefore, incurred damages.
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