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Liability question

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  • Liability question

    If you assist someone that does "pony rides" and the people riding, sign a contract but the person who owns the "pony rides" and has no insurance and the rider gets hurt, are you as the helper liable also?

    I am in a situation like that and would rather not help the person and lose everything. I know a no-brainer just asking. Should I run as far as I can.

  • #2
    I used to direct an insurance progran that handled liability claims.

    By "contract", I assume you are referring to the equine liability release approved by your state. That certainly will provide some protection. However, it does not mean that someone can't sue for gross negilgence over an injury.

    I'm less concerned about the actual damages that could be award in a claim (they are actually rare), but rather the legal fees incurred in defending a claim. I think a pony ride business is risky to own without insurance. Insurance gets you an attorney and covers legal fees. Anytime you are dealing with children, non-horse people and possibily unfamiliar settings for the ponies, it gets risky.

    First of all, do you know if the person signing the release is the custodial parent? I bet not. I can sign releases until the cows come home for a minor, but if I don't have custody, then the release is not valid. I have this situation happen often enough with children in riding lessons.

    Second, while unlikely, it is possible that you could become a deep pocket for a claim. This is typically the case when one party, typically the primary party, lacks insurance.

    Third, why on earth would this person not have insurance? Does he/she have no assets they want to protect? I have a GF who runs a pony riding business. She makes good money from it but she had lots of insurance on her business. The insurance covers the people who assist her.

    What would I do? Keep away from this business. There's too much risk for whatever reward you'll get. I think the risk of suit is low, but it isn't a risk worth taking.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


    • #3
      I think there are two issues here:

      1) will you get sued

      2) will you be liable

      The answer to #1 is yes, #2, depends on your relationship with the pony ride provider and role in whatever incident.

      Ironwood Farm nailed it- even if you aren't found liable, you still have to pay for a lawyer and fees etc.

      Also, even if the pony ride provider had insurance, her insurance still might not cover you depending on your relationship to the pony ride provider (ie employee vs independent contractor)

      Personally, I would avoid this type of situation unless the pony ride provider has insurance and you are an actual employee.

      Hope that helps!
      Unrepentant carb eater


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the replys. It helps alot!


        • #5
          might also depend on your capacity as a helper/employee. If you are an employee chances are you wouldn't be held liable.. like a waitress who might dump a hot cup of coffee on someone the waiter/waitress, nor manager are liable as individuals but the restaurant might be.. same w/ a slip/fall. If you slip at the Walmart you can't sue the manager or store clerk who might have been restocking nearby. Again, it would be determined by your capacity as "helper?"


          • #6
            Whether any release would cover you would depend on your status (independent contractor or employee) and how the release is worded.


            • #7
              Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
              might also depend on your capacity as a helper/employee. If you are an employee chances are you wouldn't be held liable.. like a waitress who might dump a hot cup of coffee on someone the waiter/waitress, nor manager are liable as individuals but the restaurant might be.. same w/ a slip/fall. If you slip at the Walmart you can't sue the manager or store clerk who might have been restocking nearby. Again, it would be determined by your capacity as "helper?"
              Yes, but I guarantee you those businesses carry insurance in case someone is injured on the premises. In this case, the pony ride owner does not have insurance.

              A waiver form is not a substitute for insurance. A state equine liability law is not total protection in the event of an accident if it can be proven that there is negligence involved. And even if the riders or their parents swear up and down that they won't sue, that doesn't mean a thing. In the event of a serious accident, their medical insurance can and will come after any party it feels is responsible.

              I would pass, pass, pass on this one.