We on this board seem to advocate ride sharing, which is great, and makes sense, and I'm all for it, but when I do a search for a trailering waiver, I find nothing but threads of doom, commercial liability, and generally things that would make me not want to even slow my rig down near another farm.
So how are people handling this? Are rides being given without waivers signed? Are those sharing the rides helping pay for gas, risking apparent commercial hauling liability for the owner/driver of the rig? Are these all handshake/hope deals?
I have a three horse and often haul friends from the barn to go to lessons, hacks, trail rides, shows, etc. I've recently been asked by a friend of a friend for a ride to a venue we're both going to and asked by a fellow student of my trainer's for an 'along the way pick up/drop off' to a cross country schooling. Should I have people sign waivers? Should I not? Should I let people help pay for gas?
My gut says I want some agreement that I am not responsible for injury to your horse, I can authorize emergency care/euth for your horse if there should be an accident and you can't be reached, you will be responsible for damage your horse causes to my trailer.
This came up in a recent thread when I asked about how people split trailer costs.
As a result, our BO called her insurer, who clarified that asking passengers to share costs associated with trailering (eg, fuel) did not put her into "commercial" territory, but ,as many had mentioned on here, to ask for more than cost-sharing would.
We are in Michigan, so I have no idea how this might work in other states.
You simply don't have a waiver. Then you can share gas and it is all copacetic.
I don't haul for trainers if they are charging as that opens up a legal thicket. I have had enough major incidents hauling other people's horses that I have learned either you do it as a full time job (pro hauler, trainer, barn owner) or you do it only as a buddy. There is no in between as some folks like to think.
When you start acting like a commercial entity such as having a waiver, then if anything happens, the parties involved can come after you as a commercial entity. Do you have passengers in your car sign waivers? If a person borrows your car do you have them sign a waiver?
Here is a thought experiment. On the highway you have a horse drop through the bottom of your trailer as the result of it pawing and kicking (yes, this is one of my personal experiences). It is injured sufficiently to be put down (didn't happen in my case). How long do you wait if you can't reach the owner? Is the damage the fault of the horse or you as the result of poor maintenance? Or is it the trailer manufacturer? Are you willing to pay for all of the testing/analysis to defend yourself in court? The moment a waiver is generated you had better be darned sure EXACTLY what YOUR responsibilities are and if you have fulfilled them (especially if you want to say a horse damaged your trailer, or you want authority to euthanize an animal).
Splitting costs is kosher. Anything else, apparently, is not. So when I haul someone I ask them to split gas with me. If I haul someone else at the request of my trainer and SHE charges them for it (the charges are credited to me) I figure it's her business and not mine. Probably legally incorrect, but I haven't signed anything and do not typically spend a lot of time worrying about lawyers. If I did, I'd be paralyzed professionally.
I also do a lot of hauling for no charge, and it winds up being a lot of the same people, and I'm a big believer in karma.
All good thoughts, in my opinion the whole point of ride sharing IS to share the costs, and otherwise help out your fellow equestrian, whether you're the one with the trailer, or the one offering to share the cost of gas. I'm not interested in making money/hauling professionally/charging, etc....but I'm more than happy to let a friend hop in an open spot in my trailer AND it is nice when someone offers to help share gas and I appreciate the thoughts on how to handle it all.
But remember that by many state commercial and the federal tax codes, the only cost that can be shared is fuel. The moment you charge a per mile, loading, insurance, vehicle wear, or other fee it becomes a commercial for profit entity. The waiver potentially binds you in that if you intend to claim authority over a horse or to claim damages to a trailer.
I loaned my trailer out to friends for a 2,000 mile trip. I don't know what happened but their horses trashed one of my panels. My friends were good enough to pay for repairs without my asking. There was some other damage but I sucked it up and took it as a lesson learned. Had I had a waiver the implication was that I was "renting" a vehicle to my insurance company.
Sharing expenses is fine....HOWEVER....Your insurance will ONLY cover the trailer AND its contents that YOU own. Your friends horse will NOT be covered for injury or death under any circumstance. Call your ins co and explain to them what you want to do. Make CERTAIN to tell them that you DO NOT own the horse.
If something were too happen...expect to pay for your friends vet bills...or worse...an attorney!!!