Anyone who has spent time around animals and horses, in particular, knows that they can be unpredictable. Even with gentle and well-trained horses, accidents and injuries occur. A person harmed by a horse may suffer serious injuries that require expensive medical care. A person who suffers a horse-related injury may sue the horse’s owner, the property manager, the riding instructor, or the landowner for his or her injury. Unfortunately, for horse professionals, people in the United States are known for being “sue happy,” and lawsuits can be extremely costly. Even if an equine professional is successful in defending a lawsuit, legal proceedings can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. But there is some good news for professionals in the horse industry. Equine professionals can reduce their chances of being sued by using liability release agreements.
What is a Waiver?
Liability release agreements protect a business or professional from liability in the event of an accident. A liability release agreement is sometimes referred to by a different name, such as a waiver of liability agreement, a release, or a waiver. This article will refer to liability release agreements as waivers.
A waiver is a written contract that educates the participant of the risks of an activity. When signing a waiver, the person acknowledges that he or she understands the dangers of the activity and accepts such risks. A written record makes it difficult for the injured person to claim later that he or she was unaware of the potential risks of engaging in a horse-related activity.
Although relatively common in the horse industry, some are skeptical about the effectiveness of waivers. Some have argued that waivers “aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” leaving many professionals unsure of whether they should use a waiver or not. Furthermore, those who do use a waiver often treat the document as a mere formality, uncertain of its effectiveness. So, you may be wondering whether your program needs a waiver. In short, yes. All professionals engaged in equine-related services should require clients, guests, and spectators to sign an adequately drafted liability waiver before engaging in any horse-related activity. Equine professionals can use a waiver as a valid form of risk management. This article will discuss the legal principles behind waivers and offer some best practice advice when using a waiver. Since legal issues regarding waivers can be complicated and state-specific, those with specific concerns or questions should consult a lawyer.
Why Use A Waiver?