As an added aside, the state of CT is now trying to use the phrase on the sign that you see posted on walls and in boarding contracts (horses are inherently dangerous animals, etc) by using it as justification to close the trails on state lands to riders, thereby preventing lawsuits from horse-related accidents. They try to close the trails every 5 years or so using one reason or another. Whether they will succeed this time remains to be seen. So, it cuts both ways, I guess.
Also, in the example where your horse kicks another boarded horse and injures it, the contract does not in fact make you liable for that other horse's injury because the other boarder will have signed the same contract which states they've accepted responsibility for injuries caused by or to their horse.
If you are really worried about this language, and otherwise really like the barn, you need to run the contract by a lawyer. There are a lot of assumptions and misinformation about liability, contract law and insurance on this thread!
If you want to board there- definitely talk to a lawyer. A few minor edits could make this a much more tolerable agreement. i.e. limiting liability to things that are "material" and "unforseeable". Which would exclude the broken boards in turn out & the stepped on feet. I'd also want to limit the liability to those authorized to handle your horse and make the references to the condition of the property specific to the time of execution of the agreement- in case conditions change and cause an issue later.
standard language by any BO who has consulted a good attorney
We ran a 54 stall facility for 12+ yrs and recently downsized to a nice, quiet 12 stall private facility As a BO, this is standard language for anyone who has consulted a good attorney!
When we first started our 54 stall facility we attended an equine law seminar that scared the **** out of us with all the possble ways we can be sued. We retained the seminar presenter as our attorney....she specializes in equine law. If we were ever sued we wanted her on our side; not on the other side....so her retainer fee was well worth it! We have worked way too hard to build what we have for one person to attempt to take it way via some ungrounded suit.
If it great that you are reading your contract in this much detail and want to understand what it means.....not many people do that. The language does not waive any of your rights if the Barn is negligent. But it does clearly provide the BO with some protection if they are ever sued.
As a BO, I had no way of knowing who might be litigious, or if someone in their family might be litigious. These contracts are for the very, very, very small percentage of clients that we might see, not for the 99.98% of the clientele we do see. I can count on one hand the times when either the client or we had to pull out the contract to address an issue....that's over 13 yrs of boarding. so this type of language is NOT a red flag about the BO; it should be interpreted as a green flag that the BO has worked to manage their business correctly.
Also, we never agreed to any changes in the contract language....if the contract was not satisfactory to a client, then that was a red flag for us anyway and we were not the right facility for them.
What is even more positive to me than someone paying this much attention to contract language is someone that takes as much time vetting our facility before they move in. When someone came to see the facility, it was as much of an interview for us as it was for them. More times than not I was the one leading them through the questions they should be asking. And we went through the contract in detail: I wouldn't let them just take a contract saying they would read it later.
I also would not let anyone I did not personally know say they wanted to move in after just one visit. I invited them to come back any time convenient to them, no appt necessary, to see the barn in operation. They were invited to make multiple visits at different times on different days (within barn hours) so that they had a high comfort level with how the barn truly operated. I provided references that they could contact. I went through all the rules mulitiple times.
I have been constant amazed how many people do not do their due diligence when vetting a facility!!! We never wanted to get into a situation where we were not meeting someone's expectations so we worked hard to make sure expectations were understood before the horse stepped in the door. One of the questions I would ask is 'what expecations do you have that your current or other previous facility were not able to meet?' Is a great question to get expecations out on the table.
There are a lot of assumptions and misinformation about liability, contract law and insurance on this thread!
lol, but it is also a good place to start off asking questions... and taking the answers with a grain of salt. I think that your above quote sums up the general persons idea about law...... that it is scary stuff. And I'm not a criminal. But I'm obviously not a lawyer either....
I have seen a contract like that, where the barn owner was saying that I would be responsible if my horse bit someone while there. We chose not to board there. How on earth could I know what was going on when I wasn't there? Suppose they let some kid pet my cranky mare and she nipped them? It just made me nervous. They claimed they had never had anyone question the contract. I'm thinking nobody ever read the contract. And yes, they wanted us to have liability insurance on our horse as well. I'd wonder if it was the same place, but this place was in Massachusetts and you seem to be in VA.
If you are concerned about the contract, then definitely contact a lawyer in your state. As SMF11 noted, there is a good bit of misinformation on this thread (and most threads concerning legal topics on this board).
As a general matter, in most states you ARE liable for damage caused by your horse (or dog, or cat, or ferret, or...) to any other person or property. There are a number of exceptions that can alter this, but that is going to vary state to state. I'm not sure why most people seem to think you are not liable for injury/damage caused by your own animal? Yes, they are flight animals, yes they are big, yes they are unpredictable, yes they may not be under your control all of the time...and YOU chose to own one. I have a fairly substantial umbrella policy for this reason...
Anyway, OP, definitely consult with a lawyer in your state. Even if you don't end up boarding here, I think you should have a discussion with someone to clarify what kind of liablity you, as the owner of a horse, GENERALLY have when it comes to others (regardless of what a boarding agreement does or does not say). You need to know this so that you can make educated decisions about insurance, etc.