Unlike a dog attack, liability for an accident that occurs around a horse is much less clear cut. Due to its docile nature, society is likely to assign blame to a horse or its owner. Moreover, courts have been more likely to take a closer look at the circumstances of the accident in determining who is at fault.
How Do I Determine Who Is at Fault?
Horse accident liability is typically broken down into three categories based on the experience of the riders/participant and the actual situation:
- Novices - A novice or inexperienced horse activity participant need only act reasonably to avoid liability. She only needs to anticipate what was reasonably foreseeable when dealing with these animals based on her experience level.
- Professionals - People who have extensive experience with horses are held to a higher standard then novices. To avoid liability, a professional must have behaved reasonably in light of all her experience with horses.
- Unavoidable Accidents - When an unavoidable or "freak" accident occurs no party is liable regardless of experience.
What Are Equine Activity Statutes?
Some states have passed laws called equine activity statutes for those participating in horse activities. Some of these statutes offer no recovery where the injured person is not where he is supposed to be or is aware of the dangers inherent with horse activities. Some states also offer professionals and owners freedom from liability if the person injured is aware of the inherent dangers of horse activities and still approaches them.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Involved in a Horse-Related Accident?
Whether you want to sue for damages or are being sued by another, the legal process can be difficult to navigate. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you prepare your case in light of the laws in your state. A personal injury attorney can also help you file the necessary paperwork and represent you in court.