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  1. #1
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    Default Legal language in Boarding contract.... liability questions

    Can I get people to weigh in on this boarding contact....

    I understand that boarding barn owners need to protect themselves..... I'm totally ok with that... but this boarding contract has language that I've never seen in my 14 years of boarding. What do people make of it?

    It's the 2nd sentence that has me uneasy... the part where the owner (me) agrees to accept responsibility for sickeness, damages, injuries or loss of life caused BY or to the Horse(s)..... blah blah.... So I am accepting all responsibility if my horse gets the BO or staff sick? Injured? or kills a person? I give them legal right to sue me if I get them sick? Injured etc? Doesn't that seem excessive? In Va we sign waivers all the time that reference the Equine Liability Law.....stating that we know that horses have can be dangerous and etc and we wont sue the landowner (show manager and etc) if we are injured whilst handling horses.....do if I know that horses can be dangerous and I accept the risks......why doesn't the BO? FYI the Owner is the horse owner...the boarder

    "The Owner has inspected the stable premises and facilities managed by XYZ., and has determined to Owner’s satisfaction that the condition of the premises and the boarding and training facilities will provide an adequate and reasonable level of safety for the Horse(s). The Owner agrees to accept responsibility for sickness, damages, injuries or loss of life caused by or to the Horse(s) arising out of, or being connected in any way, with the boarding of the Horse(s), except in the event of negligence on the part of XYZ, its agents and employees. The Owner is further responsible for injury or death caused by any acts of the Horse(s) caused by vices or dangerous behaviour not disclosed in advance to XYZ. Owner agrees to maintain personal liability insurance on the Horse(s) and provide XYZ, with proof of the same, if requested."

    If the language is trying to say that I accept all risks of boarding there, if my horse becomes sick, injured or killed while in their care (unless in cases of extreme negligence) then I'm ok with the language....But because of the word BY i don't read it that way.... do you??



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by NRB View Post
    Can I get people to weigh in on this boarding contact....

    I understand that boarding barn owners need to protect themselves..... I'm totally ok with that... but this boarding contract has language that I've never seen in my 14 years of boarding. What do people make of it?

    It's the 2nd sentence that has me uneasy... the part where the owner (me) agrees to accept responsibility for sickeness, damages, injuries or loss of life caused BY or to the Horse(s)..... blah blah.... So I am accepting all responsibility if my horse gets the BO or staff sick? Injured? or kills a person? I give them legal right to sue me if I get them sick? Injured etc? Doesn't that seem excessive? In Va we sign waivers all the time that reference the Equine Liability Law.....stating that we know that horses have can be dangerous and etc and we wont sue the landowner (show manager and etc) if we are injured whilst handling horses.....do if I know that horses can be dangerous and I accept the risks......why doesn't the BO? FYI the Owner is the horse owner...the boarder

    "The Owner has inspected the stable premises and facilities managed by XYZ., and has determined to Owner’s satisfaction that the condition of the premises and the boarding and training facilities will provide an adequate and reasonable level of safety for the Horse(s). The Owner agrees to accept responsibility for sickness, damages, injuries or loss of life caused by or to the Horse(s) arising out of, or being connected in any way, with the boarding of the Horse(s), except in the event of negligence on the part of XYZ, its agents and employees. The Owner is further responsible for injury or death caused by any acts of the Horse(s) caused by vices or dangerous behaviour not disclosed in advance to XYZ. Owner agrees to maintain personal liability insurance on the Horse(s) and provide XYZ, with proof of the same, if requested."

    If the language is trying to say that I accept all risks of boarding there, if my horse becomes sick, injured or killed while in their care (unless in cases of extreme negligence) then I'm ok with the language....But because of the word BY i don't read it that way.... do you??
    I am frustrated with acronyms today. What is BY? Is it so long you can't spell it out?



  3. #3
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    sorry, not an acronym.... By is the word By. as in "the owner agrees to accept responsibility for sickness, damages, injuries or loss of life caused by or to the horse....."

    The language is "by or to"... I am ok with being responsible for sickness, injury or death caused To the horse.... but not by the horse.....

    In other words I accept the risk that my horse could become sick, injured or killed while at a boarding barn.....but I have a hard time accepting responsibility if my horse causes someone to become sick...

    Am I just reading this in a manner that no on else does?

    I should also point out another small snafu with this contract.......that I do not have liability insurance on this horse... I mean I have health insurance for me, I have an umbrella policy added onto my house and car coverage... but I have no equine insurance.... and when I did it was mortality and major medical for the horse.....not a liability policy.... again maybe i'm reading this wrong???



  4. #4
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    I would just guess that this stable has neither liability
    insurance nor care, custody and control insurance. The
    wording of the contract suggests to me that the stable
    is trying to transfer their responsibility to you.

    You might consider asking them who their insurer is
    for stable liability and if they carry care, custody and
    control for boarders.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin


    4 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Jan. 20, 2008
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    Interesting. I've never seen a contract state that pretty much all liability falls back to you, the owner. As if you can control your horse's behavior. What happens in the event your horse spooks while being handled and causes injury to a person or other horse. To me, the way the contract is written that you could be held responsible. What happens if you horse is injured and is on stall rest and develops vices from stall rest? Again, back on you.

    And the insurance part... I don't like that either. In this age, yes it does scare me not to have Equine Liability Insurance on my horse but to have someone REQUIRE it? No.

    I don't know, that contract makes me all sorts of uncomfortable.
    Hope Blooming- Life with Chronic Pancreatitis

    My blog: Life with Pancreatitis



  6. #6
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    Mar. 20, 2011
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    You should have liability protection for your horse from your umbrella policy. You might want to check. Also there is a company that will indemnify you and the property owner (not the barn owner per se, but the land owner where the farm is located). Marcal sells it (sp?) for about 300 a year.

    If you know the horse has dangerous propensities you should disclose it in the contract. Just list everything you can imagine to be sure. The barn owner can not waive your right to sue for negligence, which they have acknowledged to some extent. As for your horse making some one or some think "sick", that's a new one on me. So if you bring home EHV-1 from a horse show and fellow boarders horses die from it, they want you to be liable? (Not such a bad idea, actually, given how that disease is going around)- That seems a bit far-reaching and overly vague to be enforceable, but it may take a judge to make that determination. Lawsuits cost money, no matter what you sign or don't sign. I would question why this barn owner is so paranoid. Maybe they can give you and example of what they are trying to say and it can be added and initialed by both of you. This would help the judge or jury determine whether or not there was a "meeting of the minds" at the time of entering said contract.



  7. #7
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    That's funny that I thought it was an acronym.

    I would be worried about that second sentence too: "The Owner agrees to accept responsibility for sickness, damages, injuries or loss of life caused by or to the Horse(s) arising out of, or being connected in any way, with the boarding of the Horse(s), except in the event of negligence on the part of XYZ, its agents and employees."

    It really does quite clearly state that you are responsible for what your horse does. It might be mitigated by the fact that the stable owner is requiring you to carry insurance. In addition to any legal professional, you might want to take this to your insurance agent to make sure you are insured for everything possible, if you choose to board there.

    It is scary, especially since a horse owner would not normally be responsible for certain injuries which would be considered part of the inherent risk of handling horses. I mean think of the things that could happen!! Things that HAVE happened! Things that DO happen! We could make a big list!

    The next sentence is interesting:
    "The Owner is further responsible for injury or death caused by any acts of the Horse(s) caused by vices or dangerous behaviour not disclosed in advance to XYZ."

    I know I'm just nitpicking because they want to make it clear that you are to disclose your horse's vices, but this is interesting because how can you be "further responsible for injury or death" when you already agreed to "accept responsibility for ....injuries or loss of life... ...connected in any way, with boarding the Horse..."??? How much more responsible can you be? I guess further responsible. Bad way to promote disclosure. It provides zero legal incentive; they better hope the horse owner has a sense of ethics.

    So it looks like you'll be paying for rhinoplasty if your horse tosses its head and breaks the barn owners nose. Or physical therapy if he steps on her foot. Yikes.



  8. #8
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    Jan. 27, 2006
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    Funny I just had my attorney draw up a contract for our new place and she used the same wording you are questioning. As a current boarder and soon to be barn owner I see it from both sides of the fence. As a barn owner you want to make sure horse owners take some responsibility for their horse and its actions. My attorney basically said that no tater the case if it ended up in litigation, regardless of the contract if the barn owner was at fault, they'd have to pay and if the owner was deemed at fault, they'd pay.

    In regards to the liability insurance my attorney also recommended Markel, I know my membership with my breed organization provides for some liability. I guess in today's society everyone wants to CYA!


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  9. #9
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    Thanks all, I did a little online research into personal equine liability policies and turned up something interesting from one company. I have not found Markels policy online to read it yet...

    Wording taken from PDF from AIG "AMERICAN EQUINE INSURANCE GROUP
    Equine Personal Liability Wording"

    "EXCLUSIONS No coverage applies hereunder for Bodily Injury or Property Damage:
    (4) To persons boarding or training the Personally Owned or Leased Horse."

    So AIG at least is not going to grant any $$ to people boarding or training the horse if the horse causes property damage or personal injury.

    Odd as this is exactly what this barn owner wants......

    I do know that the BO is leasing stalls from the property owner. The property owner is not mentioned in the boarding contract.



  10. #10
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    Nov. 30, 2006
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    Without the rest of it it's hard to tell but it sounds like the exclusion that applies to YOU or YOUR property being harmed/damaged by YOUR horse.

    Quote Originally Posted by NRB View Post
    Thanks all, I did a little online research into personal equine liability policies and turned up something interesting from one company. I have not found Markels policy online to read it yet...

    Wording taken from PDF from AIG "AMERICAN EQUINE INSURANCE GROUP
    Equine Personal Liability Wording"

    "EXCLUSIONS No coverage applies hereunder for Bodily Injury or Property Damage:
    (4) To persons boarding or training the Personally Owned or Leased Horse."

    So AIG at least is not going to grant any $$ to people boarding or training the horse if the horse causes property damage or personal injury.

    Odd as this is exactly what this barn owner wants......

    I do know that the BO is leasing stalls from the property owner. The property owner is not mentioned in the boarding contract.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gumshoe View Post
    Without the rest of it it's hard to tell but it sounds like the exclusion that applies to YOU or YOUR property being harmed/damaged by YOUR horse.
    Here is the link for the entire 2 page document; I don't read it that way..... but I'm not a lawyer.

    http://www.hallmarkhorse.com/pdf/eplword.pdf



  12. #12
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    ok here is the state code; if I read this correctly.....and I am "or any other person" then I am not liable for injury or death....again I could be reading that wrong.

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...0+cod+3.2-6202

    here are the definitions;
    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...0+cod+3.2-6200

    or maybe I should just find a lawyer who deals with equine stuff and consult with them.

    Or not board at this barn, lol.



  13. #13
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    Robin@DHH what is care, custody and control insurance?



  14. #14
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    I wonder if this "contract" also holds you liable for a fence board, broken stall door, broken auto waterer, etc, which IMO are normal parts of boarding....

    I would talk to a lawyer about just what this contract means before I signed it.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NRB View Post
    Or not board at this barn, lol.
    <ding><ding><ding> that would be my answer! lol! With all that on my head...I'd never sleep at night wondering about all the 'what if's ' that could happen with my 'perfect equine friend'...



  16. #16
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    I would talk to the BO before deciding to board or not at the barn. It is fairly boilerplate language; it does not mean that the BO is going after you for every broken fence board, it means that if your horse, say, kicks another in the field and that second horse's owner goes after the BO, the BO can turn to you and say you are responsible for any damage caused by your horse. In my opinion, it is another layer of protection for the BO. I doubt it is used much, if ever.

    My own boarding contract has just such language in it. My contract is meant to be fair, and to protect me. If you don't like it, of course you don't have to board here. But, I'm full and have no trouble filling spots.

    To me the key element is that your contract does not try and get you to waive negligence. Contracts CAN waive negligence (just not gross negligence) so I actually think your contract is fair.

    Another example would be if your horse got out onto the road (in some way that was not negligent by BO) and caused an accident with a car. The driver may well sue the BO, landowner, etc. The contract clause give the BO the right to come after you for the actions caused by your horse. Since the driver could also sue you independently, this clause does not necessarily open you up to more liability than you already have.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMF11 View Post
    I would talk to the BO before deciding to board or not at the barn.
    I am talking with the BO about this in hopefully a constructive manner.

    I also agree that BO and property owners have the right to protect themselves. And that often the language in a contract is boilerplate and is often never invoked. But I am signing a contract and I have to be comfortable with what I am agreeing to do or not do in that contract.

    I am not a sue happy person and I assume responsibility and the risks associated with horse ownership. With that said if your horse kicked my horse whilst turned out together in a filed I would not ask you to pay my vet bills. I assume the risk that I take in turning my horse out with yours.

    What I dont like about the contract is that it essentially says Code of Va states that horses are dangerous creatures, you can get hurt when you are around them and you can't sue the BO if you get hurt. But the BO is somehow exempt from Va code and they can sue you if your horse hurts them. I't s a one way street in favor of the BO. It's that level of legal unfairness that bothers me.


    So I have a hard time allowing others the right to come after me for compensation when my horse does normal horsey things.... like stepping on a persons foot. He's never stepped on mine, but hey he's a horse and he "could" .

    I'm going to look into getting liability insurance, after reading this contract it seems like a good idea. But the language of the AIG company specifically states that it won't pay out to a BO who gets injured or killed whilst handling my horse.

    But I'll start calling insurance agents and see what they say.



  18. #18
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    The contract I signed has this and more. I have liability insurance on my horses. With all that can go wrong, it's your best defense.

    BO's have no way of knowing who will or will not sue them until the fertilizer hits the ventilator. Insurance companies will go after barns/farms for compensation once the claims have been paid out. Additionally, while many people swear they would never sue, some of them quickly change their minds once time, money, and pain are factored into the equation, not to mention anger and rage. So, the wise BO pays a good lawyer to make their boarding contract as air-tight as possible. Many boarders do not purchase additional insurance because they either feel their home owners insurance will cover them, or they don't connect the dots and figure things will never happen to them. Get some insurance, be careful of how you work within your surroundings to lower the possibility of causing an accident, monitor who your horse is pastured with and demand a change if you feel they do not get along (for your own financial protection), and you will be able to sleep better at night.
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  19. #19
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    I would add that often it's not the individual who sues, but the individuals insurance company. So even if Suzy Q says she will not ask for compensation that doesn't mean that her insurance co will not.....

    This has certainly been a learning experience @ liability ins for sure. And a good thing to learn about this stuff. But still need to talk to a lawyer.


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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by NRB View Post
    But I am signing a contract and I have to be comfortable with what I am agreeing to do or not do in that contract.

    I am not a sue happy person and I assume responsibility and the risks associated with horse ownership. With that said if your horse kicked my horse whilst turned out together in a filed I would not ask you to pay my vet bills. I assume the risk that I take in turning my horse out with yours.

    But the BO is somehow exempt from Va code and they can sue you if your horse hurts them. I't s a one way street in favor of the BO. It's that level of legal unfairness that bothers me.


    So I have a hard time allowing others the right to come after me for compensation when my horse does normal horsey things.... like stepping on a persons foot. He's never stepped on mine, but hey he's a horse and he "could" .
    You are right to look at the contract carefully and decide what you feel comfortable with. I also read contracts closely (and releases) and will delete sections I do not feel comfortable with.

    I suspect any BO who sues boarders when they are injured in the normal course of business (your "stepped on a foot" example) would not be in business long. I think these provisions are aimed more at a situation where a third party (driver of car, where horse got on road and into accident) sues the BO. I don't think an equine liability statute protects the BO in a situation like that. The BO should have their own liability insurance, but it is just one more protection for them, that they could also turn to the horse owner.

    Care Custody and Control insurance, since no one has answered, is for a BO where a boarded horse is injured while in the BO's care, custody and control. So if your horse gets injured, say, running through some fencing, and you sue the BO the CCC insurance would cover the BO. I do not think the provision you are concerned about in the contract is an indication that the barn does not have CCC insurance. The provision you don't like is aimed more at third parties suing BO's, not boarders (though, it does not exclude them).



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