Question

Delores is a college student who likes to golf. She finds a nice open

field on the college campus next to Interstate 10 where she likes to practice hitting golf balls. She is getting pretty good. At one point she decides not to just hit golf balls into the field, but to see how far she can bounce a ball down the interstate. There is a steady flow of vehicles on the interstate. She does not want to hit any cars. She thinks she can hit a ball between cars. She hits a ball, misjudges the speed of a car on the interstate, and the ball goes through the windshield of the car, striking the driver, and causing the vehicle to crash. The driver dies as a result of the injuries sustained from being struck by the golf ball and subsequent accident. For what torts may Delores be found liable? Explain. 

Answer & Explanation
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Issue.

For what torts may Delores be found liable?

Rule.

The rule of negligence requires people to behave in a fashion that complies with certain rules of conduct. If a person does not adhere to the requirement, the party may be responsible for damage to another person or property incurred by him or her. Negligence is thus more usefully stated as containing four, elements: duty, breach, primary cause, proximate cause, and injury. To establish duty of care, common law law applies the Caparo v Dickman three-stage test, which comprises:

  1. Foreseeability - is this sort of damage foreseeable? 
  2. Proximity - Notional obligation to class (principle of neighbour), and 
  3. Is the imposition of duty just, just and reasonable?

Once the duty has been established, the defendant must have failed in his or her duty either by acting recklessly or failing to act in a certain manner which a reasonable person would have. The defendant also has to prove that they sustained damages. These should be able to be quantified into economic value for compensation. The breach of that duty must then be the direct cause of the accident and consequential damages suffered.

Application.

By hitting balls across a busy interstate can be easily foreseen that one would be likely to hit a car. Also, by being in proximity with the interstate, Dolores establishes a neighbour relationship with motorists as per Lord Atkin. Given the damage a ball hitting a car or motorist in the interstate, it is just, reasonable and fair to impose such a duty of care on all people playing golf next to the interstate. By hitting a ball towards the interstate with a car approaching, Dolores breached that duty. The driver sustained injuries that resulted to his death. The car was also damaged and property damages resulted from the accident. Since the accident was a direct result of the breach of duty, the final element of causation is also applicable.

Conclusion.

Based on these facts and common law cases, I would hold that Delores is liable for the tort of negligence.

Step-by-step explanation

cases.

Caparo v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605, [1990] UKHL 2, [1990] 1 All ER 568

Atkin, L. (1932). Donoghue v Stevenson.

References.

Aristova, E. (2018). Tort litigation against transnational corporations in the English courts: The challenge of jurisdiction. Utrecht L. Rev., 14, 6.