I have a private backyard farm, and I have been letting other people ride my horses, plus, I now have an instructor coming by giving me and others lessons on my horses.
Last week, the instructor was knocked down by one of my horses...know it sounds bad, but it was one of those where the horse was trotting thru a gate and yes, the instructor backed into the horse...it was a true accident.
It got me thinking, time to do my due diligence and get some liability release forms for those riding my horses, and also for instructor to be on the farm.
I don't think my horses are bad nor do I think anyone will sue, but their insurance company may.
Does anyone have any liability release forms or links or warnings or ?
Oh dear. You're smart to think about this and prepare.
The first thing you need to do is verify that you have insurance coverage for the activities. You will also want to verify that the instructor carries liability coverage.
If you have farm insurance, it may or may not provide coverage for activities such as lessons (which usually require a commercial coverage policy)
Same thing with boarding - your current policy may or may not cover that sort of operation in your state. It's usually a commercial policy - not a traditional farm/ag policy.
Insurance regs/laws vary state to state so your first step is to consult with a licensed atty experienced in this area (your insurance agent may be able to provide you a good referral), and set up your business and personal affairs to minimize the chance that an incident drives you into bankruptcy. At the same time, work with your insurance agent to verify you have the correct coverage.
A release will be worthless otherwise. The atty you consult may be able to provide you with the correct release that incorporates any verbiage required in your state. Someone can still file an insurance claim against you for medical bills - a release may be worthless and if you don't have insurance or didn't get enough or the right coverage.....
To be honest, if you are allowing anyone ride your horses on your property, you need liability INSURANCE in addition to release forms. For the most part, a release form probably isn't going to hold up. Your instructor should have insurance and if she/he doesn't, then go find one that does.
It isn't as much a problem that a person injured on your property will sue you, but if they need any medical attention at all, (ER, urgent care, etc.)you can bet your bottom dollar the medical insurance company most certainly will sue you to recover their costs.
Equine liability insurance for my farm at $1 million coverage ran $500. I also have an umbrella policy along with my homeowners, also $1 million, that cost $80. Please don't think that by trying to get away with just the umbrella policy you are covered.
If you don't mind losing your farm, continue with your current practice but do remember that you are forewarned.
Sorry to be so blunt but maybe it will hit home that you are currently engaged in a dangerous practice.
Back in my day, we didn't have as many warning labels because people weren't so dang stupid!
If any riders are minors then you need releases from the custodial parent. I was at a art in the park event a couple of months ago, and they had pony rides (great looking ponies too), and the grandparents of one kid signed the release, so it was worthless (I know the grandparents and I'm not sure that grandma who signed is even directly related to the grandkid). And make sure if anyone brings a friend to ride that the parents of that kid really signed the release in front of you-people can be sneaky and think it's all a joke until someone gets hurt and you get sued.
Yes, I agree with all of you regarding being protected.
Up until very recently, no one rode my horses but me.
I have a farm policy, and I know as long as I am not receiving money, people can ride my horses and be covered. In other words, if a friend comes over, and we go for a trail ride and something happens, I am covered.
I will check with my insurance agent and see about an equine liabillity or any other coverage I need.
Since tomorrow, we are riding, I thought it was a good idea to at least get some kind of release.
I also want to find an exercise rider to help keep the horses in work. Again, no money, but still want the liability thing covered.
I agree that you should get the liability waivers from your insurance company. It will be "free" and will have been gone over by lawyers that specialize in that kind of law for your area.
You will also need to agree to work under their operating standards...which tend to be good standards and typically include things like: no dogs in the arena, 6 students per instructor, helmets for minors and when jumping and so on. If you do not operate under their standards the release and the insurance will be more or less worthless.
You should also find out if the coach has insurance before letting them teach on your property unless your policy covers them as well...as if they don't have insurance and they are sued, you may also be dragged into the battle.
Ok, this is not an instructor based thing. An instructor coming to my farm and giving a lesson on my horse either me or someone else, who isn't getting paid to take the lesson.
the only money exchanging hands is me paying the instructor. My concern, and based on some recent coth threads is insurance and liability, etc.
So, I call the insurance company, and their response is I do have a 1 million liablility policy with my farm insurance. As long as it is not me giving instruction or the getting paid, then I am considered ok. However, and maybe some of you are aware of this...liability policy only pays out to defend you, if you are found guilty(negligent) than they do not pay out.
So, that was an interesting twist. So, really liability insurance from how I understand it is for lawyer's fees.
We discussed the following scenarios.
1 Horses get out of pasture and cause a car accident injuring people.
2. someone invited or uninvited come here and get knocked over and hurt and have a 100,000 in medical bills, lost work, etc
3. a friend is riding one of my horses and gets injured
all of the above, as long as I am being reasonable(and she did say I sounded reasonableLOL) and not negligent, the company would take care of. If I was found negligent, which I would think if a horse went thru a fence, that could be construed by the aggrevied party as being negligent, then they would not cover it.
Does this sound right to you?
So, if my horses do damage, the insurance company will defend me, and if I am not found negligent, they will cover the costs. If negligent, time to unload any assets since they will be vaccummed up by lawyers and such.
Beware of free legal forms posted on horse websites. Beware also the generic legal forms websites that offer everything from boat purchase forms to incorporation papers. There's a good chance the forms on these websites weren't actually written by a lawyer, and an excellent chance they weren't written by anyone who knows anything about horses. If you are defending yourself in a lawsuit, you'll find out exactly why those freebies were worth what you paid for them.
FYI, most insurance companies don't provide their clients with legal forms because they don't want to be in the business of giving them legal advice (for which they could be held accountable later).