Injured In An Equestrian Accident? You May Have A Personal Injury Case

Posted on: 13 August 2015

If you've recently been injured by a horse, you may be wondering if you have a personal injury case and, therefore, can file a lawsuit to help pay for your medical bills and, perhaps, loss of income. Unfortunately, equestrian accidents are not clear-cut cases for personal injury lawsuits.

The reason for this is because it's more difficult to determine fault in equestrian cases than it is for cases involving dog bites or car accidents, for example. You and your legal team will need to do some homework. Here's what you need to know.

Were you aware of the risks so you could act appropriately?

Horses are large, powerful, instinctual animals that can be unpredictable. Even docile horses can get spooked occasionally or stumble on uneven ground, both of which could cause a horse to bolt and/or rear. They are a prey animal, which means they tend to believe that everything wants to eat them, such as a plastic bag blowing in the wind off in the distance.

Your awareness of horses and their instinctual behavior, as well as your experience around them, may be assessed by the legal teams involved in an equestrian injury lawsuit. For example, if you were aware that a horse may get spooked and kick you if you came up behind it without giving the horse any warning, then a larger part of the fault of your injuries lies on you. However, if you acted appropriately and tried to warn the horse by talking to him but your trainer never told you that the horse was deaf, then the trainer may be found at fault.

 Did the facility or trainer follow the state's laws?  

Many states have adopted equine activity liability acts, most of which require horse stable owners and trainers to post warning signs regarding the dangers and risks that are involved. Speak with a personal injury lawyer to find out what the laws are in your state regarding equestrian activity.

Write the information down on a piece of paper and take the paper with you to the facility to see if they met the legal requirements. It may be a good idea to take a camera with you so you can take pictures of violations you may find. For example, take pictures if your state requires warning signs to be posted along horse trails and there are none.

If the laws of your state require that horse trails are properly maintained, take pictures if you find otherwise. Do this even if your injuries did not occur on the trail. It may help to show the insurance claims adjuster and/or the court if you find several instances of negligence throughout the facility.

Did you sign a contract with a liability waiver?

Many states require facilities and trainers to have their clients and students sign liability waivers. However, just because you may have signed a liability waiver doesn't necessarily mean that the owner or trainer cannot be found liable for your injuries.

Show the contract to your attorney so he or she can read over it. Most liability waivers are worded in such a way to mean liability is only waived under normal circumstances and conditions. These liability waivers are often not held up in court when owners or trainers did not provide a safe environment.

For example, if an improperly-fitted saddle causes a horse to be in excruciating pain, the horse may try to buck the rider off to stop the pain. If the trainer knowingly placed the improperly-fitted saddle on the horse, the trainer may be found at fault regardless of the liability waiver.

For more informaiton about liability in equestrian accidents, try contacting a law firm online at a site like


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