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Horse Accidents and Lawsuits -- Learning From Cases to Improve Safety and Minimize Risk

Ever wonder what kinds of horse-related incidents result in lawsuits? Each year, Margrit writes for the American Bar Association on recent lawsuits involving people injured while riding or working with horses, as well as on animal insurance law. In the most recent issue are cases about riders swapping horses and the resulting wreck; an injury during mounting before a trail ride even began; and a spectator injured while watching riding lessons in an indoor arena. Click here to read about these cases, starting at page 152. (On the insurance side, you can read Margrit’s case summaries about troublesome squirrels, raccoons, and feral cats starting at page 158!)

Frequent subjects for litigation are the nuances of the many Equine Activity Liability Acts that exist in some form in nearly every state in the US. The interpretation of a nuance in a given state’s EALA can mean the difference between dismissal of a case on grounds of immunity or taking the case to trial.

Studying these cases helps equine attorneys and their clients better protect against the risks of injury to a participant and the risk of liability. The lessons are not just about how to avoid liability; they often can also present a teaching point for safety improvements. Crafting a strong liability waiver is certainly important, but equally if not more important is the continued quest to improve safety policies and procedures to reduce the risk of injury in the first place.

When learning about cases and stories from other states, it is important to keep in mind that each state’s EALA laws will differ and that waivers need to be properly customized for the particular situation. This means that the result of a case in one state could turn out differently in another state, or could turn out differently because of the way the waiver was drafted. When it is time for you to write or refresh your equine liability waivers and your policies and procedures, be sure to consult a knowledgeable attorney in your state. Here in Colorado, Lent Parker Law LLC can help; if you're not in Colorado, we can connect you with our network of equine attorneys across the country.

Note: Individual circumstances and state laws vary. This post is not intended and should not be relied on as legal advice for your particular circumstance. If you are in need of legal assistance, seek legal counsel.

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