When Lightning Strikes a Golfer, Is the Course Responsible?

The caddie master learned of lightning in the area and set off in a cart with the club pro to get players off the course. Suddenly there was a burst of flames behind the players. Who is liable for their injuries? You be the judge.

By Robin Gerber
lighteningiStock/Thinkstock

The Verdict:

A New Jersey trial court ruled the club didn’t have a legal duty to protect against acts of God and had no liability for Maussner’s injuries.

The judge noted that Maussner chose to walk across an open field when he could have sought shelter or lain down.

Maussner appealed to a higher court. The Superior Court of New Jersey said injuries through acts of God don’t exempt courses from liability. When a golf course takes steps to protect players from lightning strikes, it must implement safety precautions properly. It added that a jury should decide whether the club did so in the way it posted evacuation notices and monitored dangerous conditions, and if it should have built shelters and provided an audible signal. If a course uses a safety feature, “it owes a duty of reasonable care to its patrons to utilize it correctly,” said the court.

Facing liability for Maussner’s injuries, the Atlantic City Country Club decided to pay him a financial settlement rather than go to trial. Eventually Maussner made it back to the links with protective footwear—and an extra dose of caution.

Was justice served? Is the Country Club at fault for Maussner’s injuries? Sound off in the comments.

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  • Your Comments

    • Anonymous

      A person from the golf club warned the players and recommended they seek shelter- they declined. Therefore, they’re responsible for their injuries.

    • gtbmel .

      No he shouldn’t have got any money. In light of the accident the golf course should implement a better disaster plan as suggested; but they can’t predict everything. Even if they implement the suggested ideas something else can happen. Life is risky like that. The golfer should have taken precautions on his own. It was just an unfortunate accident.

    • jhg6

      People are idiots that play when it is raining, or forecasted to rain. Let them suffer the consequences of their own stupidity. Why should the club give them one cent?

    • Ted

      He was an idiot who “took pride” in being an idiot who played in bad weather. It is too bad they paid him anything at all. This is why this country is so sue happy.

    • glr

      No, we need to start taking responsibility for our own actions. It is not the responsibility of the of the course to protect you from your own stupidity. They should not even have to check the weather for you, that is your job.

    • dela10

      No, the course made sure all the golfers were ok. The golfers are stupid, you don’t go golfing in the rain, they should have left when it did start to rain