Collision with a horse that escaped from an equine center

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Collision with a horse that escaped from an equine center

My parent got hit by a horse that escaped from an equine center located right next to a traffic road one lane on each side in DC/Baltimore metropolitan area in Maryland. It resulted significant damage to the car, and my parent had to go to ER. As far as I know, Maryland is not an ‘open-range’ state. My understanding is Maryland is an ‘fence-in’ state. Horse was privately owned but tended to by the equine center. I had installed a dash cam in the car, and the collision as well as some of the conversation following the collision was captured as video. Video showing my parent driving doesn’t show that my parent was intoxicated. My parent was filmed head on by a lens pointing back from windshield so that shows how she was driving.
What kind of liability does the equine center and horse owner have? Horse got killed from the collision. Can the owner of the horse claim any liability against my parent?

Asked on April 10, 2016 under Accident Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) Your parents would not be liable unless a) they were at fault in causing the collision and also b) the equine center was not a fault as well (since even if your parents were at fault, the center's counterveiling fault could substantially reduce or even eliminate your parent's financial responsibility). This would typically be the case if the horse was properly on the road (e.g. being legally ridden or walked along it) and your parents were driving negligently or carelessly. d on what you write, this does not seem to be the case. 
IF your parents were iable, they'd be liable up to the economic value of the horse.
2) If the center was negligent, or careless, in the horse had been fenced or secured and that's why it got out and the accident happened, then they could be liable for any costs or expenses of your parents not covered or paid by their insurance; i.e. anything they have to pay out of pocket, like their deductible or medical co-pays. The center would not be liable if they were not at fault, such as if a third party (e.g. a local teen, as a prank) let the horse out, or if a another vehicle had damaged a fence and that's how it got out, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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