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Forty six states have enacted equine activity statutes to protect horsemen, stables, and other venues from frivolous lawsuits arising out of horse accidents that could not have been avoided.

In general,lady-justice state statutes provide that a person may not bring a lawsuit if the accident resulted from an inherent risk of equine activities. They also spell out what risks – such as providing defective tack or failing appropriately to match horse with rider – are not inherent and therefore fair game for a lawsuit.

In many of the states that have enacted these statutes, the equine provider must post notices or include notices in contracts, or both, to bring their operations under the statute’s protection. These notices must contain exactly the words required by that state’s statute.

In order to receive protection  from liability provided by an equine activity statute these conditions must be met:

“ a person protected by the statute caused an injury to a person covered by the statute as a result of an inherent risk of an equine activity.  If all seven conditions are met, the statute applies and the person who caused the injury is not legally liable to the injured person.”

Not all persons injured by horse accidents are covered by equine activity statutes.  If the injured person is not covered by the statute, then the statute does not apply to the lawsuit and cannot be used as a defense.  In that circumstance, ordinary civil liability principles apply to determine the outcome of the dispute.  The fact that the statute does not apply because the injured person is not covered does not mean that the injured person wins; but it does mean that the statute does not require that the injured person lose.

Equine Liability Laws may help you provide a defense in the event of an equine incident but they will not prevent you from being sued. Homeowners and standard Farmowners policies exclude commercial equine activities.  Without adequate liability coverage you will have to pay damages and defense costs yourself.  If these damages and costs are high enough you may suffer financial hardship or bankruptcy.

Follow this link for a complete list organized alphabetically by state and consists of the full text of the statute, including any posting or notice requirements that may be in effect in that state.