Many Chester County residents use their property, in whole or in part, for various types of equine activities. Regardless of whether such use is of a personal or a commercial nature, these activities pose a variety of risks to property owners, riders and trainers. As a result, those involved in these activities should carefully consider what they can do to minimize their exposure to liability and to provide for insurance where liability results from these activities.
Pennsylvania provides some protection to those who sponsor or conduct equine activities.Under the law, there may not be liability if the injured person knowingly assumed the risk. Under the law, to show such a knowing assumption of the risk, a property owner is required to post a sign, having a minimum size of at least 3 feet by 2 feet, in two or more prominent locations. These signs must state: “You assume the risk of equine activities pursuant to Pennsylvania law.” To further minimize potential liability, those who board horses should implement safety procedures and train any employees or others conducting equine activities at their properties.
Additionally, if you board horses at your property or otherwise permit equine activities on your property, you should require each horse owner and/or rider to execute a document by which they acknowledge the risk inherent in equine activities. They should acknowledge that they have knowingly assumed the risk of those activities and that they agree to indemnify, defend and hold you harmless from any claims attributable to personal injury or property damage caused by the conduct of those activities.
In addition to taking steps, such as those described above, to minimize the likelihood of liability, consideration should be given to the type of insurance that should be maintained to cover your liability attributable to these activities if and when that occurs. Coverage for liabilities attributable to equine activities is in certain situations covered by a variety of liability insurance-type policies. In some instances, homeowner insurance policies will cover liability for a family pleasure horse. Individual horse owners can obtain an individual horse owner liability. For those boarding horses at their premises, consideration should also be given to obtaining a care, custody and control endorsement to their commercial general liability policy. There are also equine professional liability policies available for those providing instruction and training and event liability insurance for those who have equine events on their property.
In summary, posting of certain signs and the use of carefully drafted agreements can minimize one’s exposure to liability for injuries caused by equine activities and a variety of insurance products are available which may provide coverage for such liability if and when it arises.