Maybe you’ve considered the scenario of a wayward golf ball flying into the street and breaking your windshield as you drive by the local country club. Or you’ve thought about the rare possibility that the parking spot you chose at the baseball game just may end up being the inevitable target of a big home run.
Up until now, you figured, “What are the actual odds it could actually happen to me?” And then it does.
Sure, sometimes you’re just “in the wrong place at the right time,” but repeating that tired cliché isn’t going to magically fix your windshield.
So what do you do? Who is responsible? How do you take care of the issue responsibly and safety?
Almost all automobiles in the United States are required have windshields made of laminated glass. Laminated windshields consist of two pieces of glass stuck together with a layer of film in between. This is safety feature that keeps the glass, even if broken, as intact as possible to reduce the possibility or severity of injury to people in or near the vehicle.
This means that when a ball impacts your windshield, the glass may crack or spider out into a small or large web—but it should not shatter into many pieces. Unless an incredibly high amount of force was used, the ball will also likely not penetrate the glass, though it is possible depending on the weight of the object and the speed at which it traveled.
If the ball strikes another piece of glass on the car, such as the back glass, roof glass, sunroof or side glass on the door, it may shatter into pieces or penetrate the glass, as these areas aren’t required to use laminated glass. They are typically made of tempered glass instead. Both are safety glass, but you can see the differences here.
First of all, it’s never a good idea to operate the car if your windshield is damaged, no matter the severity.
Even the smallest crack or chip can compromise the integrity of the windshield, which is an important structural component of your vehicle. The crack can also spread quickly and could impede your view, which is extremely dangerous for you and other drivers on the road.
So pull over to a safe place as soon as you can, and if you’re not actually driving, don’t start now. [Tips on what do you if your glass breaks]
This may be the most important aspect of this topic—and quite possibly the sole reason as to why you’re here in the first place.
If your car is hit by something like a baseball or a golf ball, who does responsibility fall on? In most cases, it’s pretty cut-and-dry, but also in most cases, the responsibility doesn’t always end up falling where you would expect.
Take, for example, a golf ball. You’re driving down the street by a golf course minding your own business, when a ball comes flying over a tree and into your windshield. It sure as heck isn’t your fault that the road happened to run within striking distance of a wayward shot.
Law and policy may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction or from facility to facility, but almost always, the ultimate responsibility falls on the person who hit the golf ball. At least, this is the answer nearly every golf course will give you, and typically they’re right.
The only time responsibility may fall on the course may be if they failed to provide a reasonable barricade between flying golf balls and the road in a way that could make this kind of accident a regular occurrence. And even then, the “victim” would likely need to lawyer up in order to prove this—if it is even provable.
The same goes for a stadium. It’s unlikely the stadium will take responsibility if you park your car in an area where baseballs may be flying all over the place.
In one unique case, a baseball player a minor league baseball player actually hit his own car. It was OK, though… since it was a grand slam.
First of all, as stated before, you shouldn’t continue to drive the vehicle. In the golf ball scenario, if you’re near the entrance of the golf course, pull in there.
If the golfer who hit the ball knows he made contact with your car, you hope their moral compass kicks in and that they fess up. If they don’t take responsibility and approach you, you should immediately go to the golf course pro shop or office and explain your situation. The person there likely will tell you the facility is not liable, but they should at the very least help you locate the person responsible. The shop almost always knows who is on the golf course and can pinpoint which group of players was in a particular area at a certain time. Any information you can provide, such as where your car was when you were hit, or the color shirt the golfer you suspect hit the ball was wearing will be helpful.
In the end, you hope the person responsible will ultimately do the right thing. In that case, you may exchange information, and they will have the option of paying for the damage out of pocket or to go through whichever insurance avenues the two of you work out.
Otherwise, you may very well get stuck with the tab and will either need to file a claim through your auto insurance company or pay the full amount out of pocket.
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