• Waivers/Releases of Liability - Not Just for Riders
  • November 28, 2014 | Author: Julie I. Fershtman
  • Law Firm: Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C. - Farmington Hills Office
  • The scenarios are all too common in the horse industry:

    • The stable’s liability release, by its terms, states only that it applies to "riders" of horses.

    • Stable management only present the stable’s release form to boarding, training, or riding customers - and nobody else.

    From a risk management standpoint, these stables could protect themselves better. As our experience tells us, spectators and visitors sometimes get injured on the premises, and when they do, lawsuits can follow.

    Nationwide, courts in most states have enforced waivers/releases of liability as long as the documents were properly worded and signed. Stables looking to reduce their liability risks are losing valuable opportunities if their liability releases are too narrowly worded, applying only to people who are "riding." Stables also lose risk management opportunities if they ask only riders to sign these documents.

    WAIVER/RELEASE LANGUAGE

    A stable’s release of liability (where allowed by law) can specify that it is intended to apply not only to people who are riding, driving, handling, or near horses but also to people who are simply on or near the stable’s premises. Details matter.

    SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS

    Earlier this year, our equine law blog reported (http://www.equinelawblog.com/Fershtman-Equine-Law-Victory ) that Julie Fershtman successfully defended a stable in a lawsuit brought by a visitor who was injured in the stable’s aisle. Before that accident occurred, giving rise to the lawsuit, the stable never thought to ask the visitor to sign its liability release. A signed release might have prevented the lawsuit altogether (or, it might have made the lawsuit easier and cheaper to defend).

    Because waivers/releases of liability are very important documents, and because the requirements for these documents can differ substantially from state to state, consult with a knowledgeable attorney regarding your document.