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Does your equine business need specialized waivers for visitors?

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2020 | equine and animal law |

People who run equine businesses typically have a deep and abiding love for horses and the athletic prowess that goes along with horse riding and other equine sports. Wanting to share the joy of horse riding with others is a noble pursuit, but it is one fraught with risk.

Even the most well-behaved horse could become skittish or unpredictable in certain circumstances. As a business owner operating an equine-related company, you certainly don’t want to wind up with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of liability because of a loud noise that occurred near your facilities or the sudden appearance of a snake on a trail that startles a horse.

Is the creation of a waiver that all customers, visitors and vendors must execute before getting close to a horse necessary for the protection of your business?

Under Georgia law, equine businesses already have protection

Horses are many times larger and heavier than humans, which means they can easily cause severe injuries to their riders and people nearby. Anyone who has ever interacted with the horse should have a general awareness of the risk of these animals can pose.

From throwing or dropping a rider to trampling or kicking someone, there are a host of ways that a horse could cause irreparable harm to the human body. Georgia recognizes these risks by enshrining in the state’s law the fact that owners of horse-related businesses typically do not have responsibility for injuries or fatalities that result from horse behavior.

However, having people sign a waiver can add an additional layer of protection by showing you did your best to educate your customers and by reminding people of the risks involved so that they can make informed decisions. Making the waiver as specific as possible to your business’ operations can help increase the protection that it can offer you in the event of an accident.

Liability can stem from a mistake or negligence

While state law does do its best to protect businesses from unnecessary claims made by people engaging in a known, risky activity, there are still circumstances in which someone hurt in an equine facility could potentially bring a lawsuit against the business’s owners or operators.

Those circumstances include when negligence on the part of someone on staff contributed to an injury. The better trained everyone on your staff is and the more proactive you are about maintenance and safety, the less likely it becomes for someone to get hurt while patronizing or visiting your business.