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Where does the liability end???

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  • Where does the liability end???

    A not so uncommon occurence, with tragic ends. Yes, hypothetical, but worthy of discussion.


    A group of boarders get together after the Barn Owner posts on the Barn's Facebook page about an event taking place. She asks who's going. Then proceeds to line up who is hauling horses to the event. In other words, this horse will ride in this trailer. NO releases signed. All personal trailers owned by boarders or friends of boarders. They go to the event but on the way back there is an accident. Someone hauling two other boarders horses has an accident. All three horses are dead, the haulers horse & the other two. To make this less complicated. The driver just misjudged a curve and went off the road. Now, does the barn owner have any responsibility? Does the driver of the truck? Does the States equine liability law apply here?The driver of the truck only has insurance covering his truck, just liability. His insurance company doesn't know he has the trailer, and he usually only hauls his own horse around.

  • #2
    I would think the driver is liable. It'll be on him personally if he doesn't have the right type of coverage for hauling.

    How would the promoter of the event be at fault? It's not like anyone was forced to participate.

    Sure, the owners of the horses that died could sue everyone from the driver to the BO, but that doesn't mean they'll be successful.
    Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

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    • #3
      It generally ends with the deepest pocket/best insurance coverage.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home

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      • #4
        Accidents happen. Driving and hauling are always a risk and when you put your horse into a trailer ( your own or someone else's) the responsibility is all yours. Before I had my own trailer I would routinely have my horse hauled by the barn owner when we showed. If something had happened I would never even think of blaming him or trying to get money from him or his insurance.

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        • #5
          The driver is the only person, so far, with any clear liability. Even that liability will have limits depending upon state law. As for the rest, where did it happen and who am I representing???

          G.
          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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          • #6
            If I were hauling other people's horses and I got into that same accident I would assume that I would be held responsible. I would never haul in an uninsured trailer though so I don't know what that means for the hypothetical driver in the op.
            My blog: Crackerdog Farm

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            • #7
              I agree that it's the driver's fault, and the insurance company won't cover anything, and will probably cancel the driver's insurance. Good luck for that driver getting coverage again, except from a high risk policy company at an equally high price, or from the state's equally high priced high risk pool.
              You can't fix stupid-Ron White

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              • #8
                2 yrs ago I went looking for ins that would cover me, if a friend and I went trail riding with her horse in my trailer and an accident occurred caused by me. At that time, and I think it's still true, there wasn't any ins co that would write a policy to cover a private horse owner hauling a friend's horse even if no money etc changed hands. Even with the other owner sitting in the truck with me. According to the horse ins agent, I have care, custody and control of the other horse. It's my truck and trailer. My auto ins and most auto ins according to the horse ins agent, does not cover the contents of the trailer and there isn't any ins out there that will. Bo's and riding instructors usually have liability ins so they would be protected if a horse in their trailer was injured or killed. The private horse owner. Nope.
                Moral - don't put someone else's horse in your trailer. Friends do sue. Or hope that the accident is caused by another motorist so everyone can sue that person too.

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                • #9
                  The driver should be liable if they drove in a dangerous manner. Our provincial horse association insurance gives us protection up to a certain amount for trailering another person's horse for non-commercial hauling - ie. friends.

                  And yes, "friends" do sue. Ask me how I know.

                  Nancy!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nancy! View Post
                    The driver should be liable if they drove in a dangerous manner. Our provincial horse association insurance gives us protection up to a certain amount for trailering another person's horse for non-commercial hauling - ie. friends.

                    And yes, "friends" do sue. Ask me how I know.

                    Nancy!
                    How do you know?
                    I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                    Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by candyappy View Post
                      Accidents happen. Driving and hauling are always a risk and when you put your horse into a trailer ( your own or someone else's) the responsibility is all yours. Before I had my own trailer I would routinely have my horse hauled by the barn owner when we showed. If something had happened I would never even think of blaming him or trying to get money from him or his insurance.
                      This is so unbelievably wrong, and I hope that you don't haul other people's horses with that thought process. Sure, "accidents happen", but the driver is 100% completely liable. (Unless a secondary party is clearly at fault.)

                      Originally posted by Crackerdog View Post
                      If I were hauling other people's horses and I got into that same accident I would assume that I would be held responsible. I would never haul in an uninsured trailer though so I don't know what that means for the hypothetical driver in the op.
                      The trailer in the article is most likely insured. Most private auto policies come with a limited amount of insurance for whatever they happen to be hauling. HOWEVER...that is insurance for bumps and bruises, it has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the trailer.

                      As another poster found out, if you are going to be trailering other people's horses, you need that care/custody/control insurance, as well as commercial hauling insurance. It has been discussed ad nauseum on this board in hundreds of threads, but if you want to be fully aware of the risks, you need to talk to your own personal insurance agent about what exactly your current insurance covers, and what more you need to be covered to haul other horses.


                      OP: I could see the barn owner being liable as well, if there was a crafty lawyer and the horse owner was really upset. The BO sounds like she could have "contracted" the trailer-owner to haul the horses, and organized everything. So the BO could find themselves in court as well.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                        This is so unbelievably wrong, and I hope that you don't haul other people's horses with that thought process. Sure, "accidents happen", but the driver is 100% completely liable. (Unless a secondary party is clearly at fault.)
                        I wouldn't haul a horse for anyone other than a close friend because I agree with candyappy. Crap happens and I feel that if I load my horse on someone else's non-commercial trailer it is my risk. If someone was giving me a ride to something and had an accident, unless they did something pretty obviously negligent, I would not think of trying to hold them liable. To me, that comes under the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category...

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sketcher View Post
                          I wouldn't haul a horse for anyone other than a close friend because I agree with candyappy. Crap happens and I feel that if I load my horse on someone else's non-commercial trailer it is my risk. If someone was giving me a ride to something and had an accident, unless they did something pretty obviously negligent, I would not think of trying to hold them liable. To me, that comes under the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category...
                          Of course, but candyappy stated that like it's the law, and that's not the case.

                          That's fine that YOU'D never sue. But you never know about Sally from the barn, or Joe who needs a ride to the clinic. Also, what people oftentimes forget is that often the people suing are not your friends...it's the insurance companies themselves. Of course, maybe this is not an issue for a lot of people, but if a horse is insured for mortality, and the owner calls in that claim, the insurance company could pay it out and then very well find someone to go after to make back their money.

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                          • #14
                            its so sad...to many lawyers.... Gone are the days when a hand shake meant something and a heart felt "I'm sorry" can be said with it being an acknowledgement of wrong doing putting oneself at risk of a lawsuit.

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                            • #15
                              "I'm sorry" is for minor dents. If it involves an expensive animal dying, it better come with an offer of remuneration if it's an at-fault situation.

                              And yep, in the OP's hypothetical situation, the driver would be the responsible party unless they could somehow prove there was a mechanical failure. They were driving, and they're apparently driving partially uninsured. His insurance company is going to drop him like a hot potato, too.
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                              • #16
                                This is a hypothetical question and as Laurierace said, it depends on who has what insurance. Believe it or not, you have no obligation to insure your trailer for anything. You do have an obligation to insure your tow vehicle. However auto coverage may not be the only insurance that comes into play; there could be coverage under an umbrella policy or even a homeowner's policy for personal liability. Also the BO or trainer's insurance may respond.

                                And I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that the hypothetical driver could simply pay from personal funds. If the horses were not particularly expensive, this could be fairly simple to do. And before I get flamed, I do understand that the emotional value of a horse may be completely different from his value as a piece of property. But insurance companies aren't going to reimburse based on loss of companionship, they are going to pay on loss of property.

                                Of course, the prudent course would be to have adequate liability insurance to cover hauling of unowned horses and get releases before loading and hauling.
                                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
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                                • #17
                                  Here in TN, you are required to have auto insurance, but not trailer insurance.

                                  My friends and I often haul one another's horses. If someone made an honest mistake, I certainly wouldn't sue because my horse was killed or injured. If someone hauled my horse rip roaring drunk or something, maybe I'd feel differently, but my friends wouldn't do that. I'm as likely to have an error in judgment while driving as they are, and I certainly wouldn't hold them responsible in that instance. It would never have even occured to me.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                                    This is so unbelievably wrong, and I hope that you don't haul other people's horses with that thought process. Sure, "accidents happen", but the driver is 100% completely liable. (Unless a secondary party is clearly at fault.)



                                    The trailer in the article is most likely insured. Most private auto policies come with a limited amount of insurance for whatever they happen to be hauling. HOWEVER...that is insurance for bumps and bruises, it has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the trailer.

                                    As another poster found out, if you are going to be trailering other people's horses, you need that care/custody/control insurance, as well as commercial hauling insurance. It has been discussed ad nauseum on this board in hundreds of threads, but if you want to be fully aware of the risks, you need to talk to your own personal insurance agent about what exactly your current insurance covers, and what more you need to be covered to haul other horses.


                                    OP: I could see the barn owner being liable as well, if there was a crafty lawyer and the horse owner was really upset. The BO sounds like she could have "contracted" the trailer-owner to haul the horses, and organized everything. So the BO could find themselves in court as well.
                                    I'm not sure what article you are referring to? I was responding to the part of the OP where she states that only the truck is insured for liability and the insurance company doesn't even know about the trailer.

                                    When we had our trailer I had it covered by itself on our auto policy along with our truck and car. We carry complete coverage on our vehicles but I don't know what that meant for our trailer.
                                    My blog: Crackerdog Farm

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      The reason I asked this question is because I know of trips to events where the question of insurance or liability NEVER comes up. There are a few horses where owners did by hefty sums for their horses. One part of this that has been skipped over is that the barn owner usually decides who hauls who. They all convoy together. People just seem to put their horses in the trailer not questioning anything, from mechanical condition of truck & trailer, to whether the driver has a current valid license.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Crackerdog View Post
                                        I'm not sure what article you are referring to? I was responding to the part of the OP where she states that only the truck is insured for liability and the insurance company doesn't even know about the trailer.

                                        When we had our trailer I had it covered by itself on our auto policy along with our truck and car. We carry complete coverage on our vehicles but I don't know what that meant for our trailer.
                                        Sorry sorry, not article, hypothetical situation.

                                        Anyway, my point is that most auto policies come with "automatic" insurance for whatever they're hauling. It's meant for damage to the trailer and is usually only like $3000 for damages. You don't need to tell your insurance company what/when you're hauling, it's just automatically there. IN MOST STATES, can't speak for all states and all insurance policies, of course.

                                        My point is that the insurance that you have on the trailer (which comes from the tow vehicle) does not include the contents of said trailer. I've had so many people tell me that they're insured to haul, because their vehicle insurance covers them. It doesn't cover damage to horses, it's not at all the same thing as a care/custody/control.

                                        Just highlighting that there are differences in insurance for situations like these, and you need to be aware of what policy covers what, exactly.

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