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Legal Aspects of the Trial Period: Three Foreseeable Problems and Ways to Avoid Them

"Try out my horse for few weeks.  See if you get along with him." 

These were the words of a sincere, well-intentioned seller who only wanted a satisfied buyer.  Could anything possibly go wrong with this trial period arrangement?   Let’s explore three possible problems and ways to avoid them.

Problem One: The "Buyer" Steals the Horse, Without Payment

This situation is rare but preventable.  The seller can:

  • Require Full Payment Up Front.  As an alternative to the trial period, the parties can finish the sale now, giving the buyer the option of returning the horse for a refund if the horse comes back within a certain number of days in good condition.
  • Retain the Registration Papers Until The Last Payment Clears.  If the "buyer" wants to steal the horse, papers may be meaningless.  But a buyer who needs the papers for breeding, racing, or showing purposes will more likely come through if the seller holds papers during the trail period and provides them after the buyer makes full payment.

Problem Two: Your Horse Injures the "Buyer" During the Trial Period

Liability during the trial period is a major concern.  After all, the seller retains ownership of the horse, but there is no telling what the buyer will do to “test out” the horse.  Some ideas for addressing the matter are:

  • Release of Liability (Where Allowed By Law).  The seller would be wise to require the buyer to sign, in addition to the trial period contract, a well-written release of liability.  Where allowed by law, a release of liability is a powerful protection for the seller.  A release (sometimes called a "waiver") is someone's agreement to sign away what would otherwise be a legal right sue for a variety of claims (state law determines what, if any, claims can be released away).  Sellers seeking the best protection should consider consulting with an attorney.
  • Insurance.  Although courts in most states have enforced properly worded and presented liability releases, having a release does not eliminate the need for good insurance.  A cautious seller can make sure that his or her insurance is up to date as to types and amounts of coverage and that the insurance will cover injuries that may occur during the trial period.
  • Make the Transaction a Sale.  The seller can request that the parties complete a sale of the horse, with the buyer entitled to a refund under certain conditions. 

Problem Three: Your Horse Injures Someone Else During the Trial Period

The seller, simply because he or she owns the horse, is at risk of being named a party in a liability lawsuit if the horse kicks, bites, throws, or injures someone else during the trial period.  Certainly, many of the same suggestions found in problem two, above, can apply.  In addition:

  • Indemnification.  In its most basic sense, indemnification is an arrangement in which someone agrees to compensate another for an anticipated loss or liability.  As an example, an indemnification provision between the seller and buyer can provide: if a loss or liability is asserted against the seller, then the buyer will pay the seller’s legal fees any liabilities or judgments asserted against the seller.  Indemnification agreements can be complicated, and laws vary.

Trial periods and arrangements involving them can be complex and risky.  Direct your questions to a knowledgeable attorney.

Categories: Insurance, Liability, Sales/Disputes

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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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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

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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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