Updated: Aug 24
If your horse business does not have an equine liability waiver, or you have one but you haven’t had it reviewed recently if at all, put it on your New Year’s resolution list—right now! If you are working from an old, borrowed, or online liability waiver form, there’s a real risk that it will not protect you when you need it.
You’ve poured your heart, time, money, sweat, and tears into building your business, it’s time to direct some of that energy toward protecting what you built. As an added bonus, you can leverage the task and make it a great vehicle for evaluating your risk management as a whole.
We all know that the horses we love and the horse activities we engage in can be dangerous. Among other things, a well-written liability waiver requires your participants to release you and your business from liability and agree not to sue in the event of injury.
Thus, it goes without saying that a liability waiver is a critical part of any horse business’s risk management plan. It helps protect you, your business, and your livelihood by preventing or mitigating the financial harm—not to mention the stress and emotional toll—from lawsuits if someone is injured.
Since this is such a critical tool in the risk management toolkit, ask yourself: Do I have a liability waiver? Where did I get it from? Did a lawyer write it for me with my business and my state’s laws in mind to maximize the legal protections available? When was the last time I updated it? Is it time to refresh with a new one?
There is a lot to consider when evaluating what should be in your liability waiver and how it should be customized to suit your needs (there is no one-size-fits-all). The process can and should serve as part of a check-up on the health of your business.
When I work with my clients to prepare a liability waiver for them, we have the opportunity to consider multiple aspects of risk management. The liability waiver is just one part of the risk management toolkit, and without a review of related parts, a business may not be doing all it can to protect itself. The process asks numerous questions about the horse operation which is principally geared toward making sure the liability waiver is appropriately customized, but also allows us to identify other areas to address, such as adequate entity structure, liability insurance, policies around safety gear, barn rules and policies, facility safety measures, liability act signage, and procedures for obtaining and saving signed waivers. Liability waivers are only as good as their implementation, and so I also work with my clients to consider best practices in implementation.
If you borrowed a form from someone else, got one off the internet, or have an old waiver, not only do you risk that the document won’t actually do much to protect you, but also it is a missed opportunity for you to critically evaluate the whole of your business and ensure you are doing everything you can to protect what you’ve built. Contact your lawyer and cross this important to-do item off your list of New Year’s resolutions!
About: Lent Parker Law LLC provides equine law services to Colorado horse businesses and professionals in their planning and risk management needs. If you are looking for an attorney in a different state, please ask for a referral, as we have a network of equine law colleagues across the country. Contact Lent Parker Law LLC.
Legal disclaimer: Individual circumstances and state laws vary. This post is not intended and should not be relied on as legal advice for your particular circumstance. Contact an attorney if you are in need of legal assistance.