- Dangerous animals. A horse’s owner needs to understand the animal’s personality. Horses can have a wide range of quirks, like fear of loud noises or children. Sometimes a horse’s behavior goes beyond typical skittishness and makes the animal dangerous to be around without appropriate precautions. The owner of such an animal needs to take reasonable care to ensure that other people are not harmed by the horse. That may include warning people who are around it and ensuring that the horse is kept where it isn’t likely to cause harm.
- Improperly maintained equipment. Although not directly related to the behavior of the horse, badly maintained equipment could cause an injury. A saddle’s buckle might break under strain, throwing the rider. A noncommercial owner of equipment, such as someone who allows a friend to ride a horse, is not expected to take special care to ensure that every piece of equipment is in perfect condition. But if the owner knew or should have known about an equipment defect, liability may apply.
- Irresponsible behavior. Equestrians develop good habits to keep their horses calm and content. Someone who doesn’t follow good practices around a horse risks spooking it into behaving erratically. In some situations the bad behavior may rise to negligence or worse. Setting a trap, even as a joke, is an extreme example. Bad behavior swings both ways. If the injured rider was drunk or behaving in a dangerous way (for example, trying to stand up on the saddle) the rider may be found to have behaved negligent as well, regardless of how others behaved at the time.
- Inadequate supervision of minors. Children don’t necessarily know how to behave around horses. A horse owner who allows a child to ride a horse needs to take special precautions to make sure the child rides safely and doesn’t fall from the saddle.
Properly cared-for horses are not especially dangerous animals, but they can still cause injuries. A rider may fall from the saddle, a horse may kick or bite. When someone is injured during equestrian activities it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from the person responsible. This is especially true if the injury is very serious, involving high medical costs or even death. Quite often such cases will need to be taken to court to compel an insurer to cover the injured person’s costs. There are several potential scenarios involving horses where personal injury could create legal liability. Here are a few examples.