What is the liability of horse owner for accident on his private property?

UPDATED: Jan 29, 2012

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What is the liability of horse owner for accident on his private property?

A person given a horse to ride that was too spirited for the rider’s experience. So the rider thrown from horse, and suffered severe life/death injuries. The horse owner found the rider, took horse and left rider laying there. They put the horse away and went home; they didnot call for help. The rider managed to get to a neighbors and a call for help was made. The rider underwent surgery to save their life. Can the rider sue the owner’s homeowner’s insurance showing negligence on the owners part?

Asked on January 29, 2012 under Personal Injury, Idaho


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is worth it for the rider to consult with an attorney to evaluate his/her potential case. Providing a horse which was too spirited for a rider at this level of proficiency may well be negligence; it is also possible that under the cirucmstances, there was negligence in not calling for help (usually, there is no affirmative duty to aid another; but if the injury was caused by something the owner did, that could give rise to a duty; also, if the horse-riding establishment was a commercial endeavor, that could establish a duty to paying customers).

There are two potential weaknesses in the case:

1) Horse riding is inherently dangerous; often, when someone chooses to engage in an inherently dangerous activity, he or she has assumed the risk of ordinary perils, such as falling from a horse, and may not be able to collect compensation for them.

2) The owner does not have a duty to independently verify the rider's level of skill; if the rider represented that he/she was a better rider or could handle this horse, there may have been  nothing negligent in what the owner did, unless for some reason the owner did in fact have prior knowledge of the rider's ability.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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