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Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against Golf Course After Man Killed by Falling Tree

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

We often don't think of golf as a dangerous sport, at least not in the actual playing of it. Sure, you could tweak your back trying to reach a par 5 green in two. And yes, there could be the wayward drive coming from a nearby tee box. But, for the most part, we expect to finish our rounds with our physical health relatively unscathed, if not our handicap as well.

But golf is played, if not in than very close to nature, and nature has a nasty way of sneaking up and spoiling our day in the worst way. That's what happened to 71-year-old David Hamaker last spring, after he was struck by a falling tree while sitting in a golf cart on a Palm Springs gold course. Hamaker died about a week after suffering serious injuries, and his family has now filed a lawsuit against the gold course, alleging its owners inadequately maintained the grounds and negligently contributed to his death.

Wrongful Death Claim

According to the lawsuit, Hamaker was seated in a golf cart near the 17th hole of the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in March 2017 when he was struck by a falling tree. He was hospitalized at Desert Regional Medical Center and underwent surgery for his injuries, but passed away a little more than a week after the incident. Hamaker allegedly "suffered a severe cervical spine fracture dislocation,'' among other injuries listed in the suit, and died from "sequelae of blunt impact injury of neck," according to his death certificate.

The lawsuit claims course owners negligently maintained the premises and failed to close the course or even warn golfers of the windy conditions that day.

Par for the Course and Premises Liability

The level to which a landowner is liable to a person for injuries sustained on his or her property depends largely on the relationship between them. An invitee is someone who is invited onto the property of another, like a customer in a store, or, in this case, a golfer onto a golf course. This invitation usually implies that the property owner/possessor has taken reasonable steps to assure the safety of the premises. While state law may vary, landowners must exercise reasonable care for the safety of invitees, meaning reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the premises.

Whether a landowner, say, a golf course, has met this standard of reasonableness generally depends on a variety of factors, including:

  1. The use to which the property is put;
  2. The foreseeability of the accident or injury that occurred; and
  3. The reasonableness of the owner's effort to repair a dangerous condition or warn visitors.

If you've been injured on someone else's property, contact an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

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