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Someone Was Hurt While Riding Your Horse - When Saying “So Sorry” Might be Enough

You allowed someone to ride your horse, but the worst-case scenario later came true – your friend fell off and was injured. Certainly, the immediate response is to make sure that your friend received proper medical attention and that your friend is safe. But can your words, made after the fact, form a basis for liability? Sometimes they can. In a recent case from New Jersey, in fact, they did.

The case involved two friends who met through their children's parochial school. One of them (the defendant) owned horses, and the other (the plaintiff) asked to ride but her riding experience had been limited over the past 20 years. The defendant allowed plaintiff to ride a 17 year-old Thoroughbred mare named “Annie,” while the defendant rode an Arabian/QuarterHorse/Saddlebred cross named “Nicodemus.” Their ride, lasting about 40 minutes, went well, but upon return, the defendant suggested that plaintiff ride “Nicodemus” alone on the trail. Sometime later, after “Nicodemus” ran back to the barn alone, the defendant discovered that plaintiff had fallen off and was seriously injured. 

After the incident occurred, the defendant wrote a “To whom it may concern” letter in which she stated, among other things: “I was negligent in letting [the plaintiff] ride out alone...I did a very foolish thing. A very negligent and careless thing.”

A lawsuit followed, but the trial court dismissed the case on the strength of New Jersey’s Equine Activity Liability Act [N.J.S.A. 5:15-1 to -12], finding that the plaintiff’s injuries resulted from “assumed risks,” regardless of the defendant’s letter. The court of appeals reversed, however. In doing so, it found that the circumstances, and especially the defendant’s letter of admission, could potentially lead a jury to conclude that the defendant was liable for allowing a rider with insufficient experience to ride her horse alone on the trail. Under New Jersey’s statute, liability could potentially exist if the defendant engaged in an “act or omission...that constituted negligent disregard for [the plaintiff’s] safety, which act or omission caused the injury.”

Conclusion

Should you admit liability after an accident occurs? It always helps to make an informed decision after speaking with your lawyer.

The case was: Stroman v. Bell, No. A-1667-10T1; 2012 WL 4093578 (N.J. Super 9/19/2012)(unpublished).

Categories: Liability

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is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. She has successfully tried equine cases before juries in four states. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, four books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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Contact Us - Julie Fershtman

"Julie Fershtman is considered by many to be the nation's leading expert on equine activity liability acts. Her 30-minute presentation for a recent educational webinar on equine activity liability acts for the American Horse Council is available for viewing. Please take a look, here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCROISSPMJs

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Wins Fourth National Award

Julie Fershtman’s latest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense, won its fourth national award on May 31, 2021. It was selected to receive a "Finalist" Medal in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

The 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group, which is the largest International awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. Here’s a link for the complete list of 2021 winners and finalists: https://www.indiebookawards.com/winners.php?year=2021 

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Third National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Equine Blog Ranked in Feedspot

Foster Swift's Equine Law Blog was ranked #8 in Feedspot.com's "15 Best Equine Law Blogs and Websites".

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

In 2022, Julie Fershtman is scheduled to be a speaker on equine liability at these conventions:

Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Second National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

Information on the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/164105493X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership

"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council

"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association

"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association 

Some of our Equine Law Services

Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating a wide variety of equine-related disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 

THE NATION'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER EQUINE LAW SPEAKER

Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, US Hunter/Jumper Association Annual Meeting, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie directly.

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