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How Not To Respond To an Equine-Related Lawsuit

You just received papers of a lawsuit that was filed against you. The party suing you demands substantial compensation. What do you do next? Knowing the right answer can be tremendously important—it can also save you a substantial amount of money. Taking the wrong action, in the worst case scenario, could potentially result in a sizeable judgment issued against you that cannot be overturned. 

What NOT to Do When Served With a Lawsuit

People in the equine industry have been known to do unwise and counterproductive things after being served with an equine-related lawsuit, such as:

  • A race horse trainer's assistant filed a lawsuit after being bitten by a horse. After receiving the suit, the trainer simply mailed the lawyer who sued her a copy of her state’s Equine Activity Liability Act, assuming (wrongly) that the lawyer would instantly drop the case. That never happened.
  • A horse owner, upon receiving a lawsuit, found the name of a lawyer and simply mailed over the papers to him without first determining the lawyer’s ability to handle her case.
  • Some people file away or toss out lawsuit papers, with no intention of taking action, under the assumption that inaction will make the case disappear.

Each of these situations really happened, and each person narrowly avoided having a judgment issued against him or her for failing to properly respond to the lawsuit.

Lawsuits should be taken very seriously. The consequences of a tardy response, no response, or an improper response can be costly. For example, the party suing you could ask the court to issue a “default” against you, followed by a request for a judgment. Correcting this problem requires immediate and thorough legal action.

Suggestions for Responding to a Lawsuit

Once you are handed a lawsuit, take prompt action. The reason is simple: state laws and court rules impose time limits on when to properly respond, and it might take time to evaluate your options. Consequently, the longer you wait, the greater the risk that your time to answer will run out, and you can never be sure that the opposing party’s lawyer or the court will allow you extra time.

As you evaluate your options after being sued, here are some ideas to keep in mind:

  • If you are insured, yet failed to notify your insurer of the lawsuit, a possibility exists that the insurer might refuse to pay any judgment issued against you. It might even file a lawsuit of its own against you to extricate itself from your situation.
  • If you have no insurance, contact a lawyer immediately. Keep in mind that the option of a free, court-appointed lawyer does not apply in cases involving business dealings, equine sales, or injuries related to your horses. You can find a lawyer through recommendations from others, websites (such as www.martindale.com or www.avvo.com or a lawyer referral service from your state or local bar association.
  • Representing yourself in court is, of course, your right, but proceed with caution before assuming that you can represent yourself effectively, especially if the other side has a lawyer.

This article does not constitute legal advice. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.

Categories: Lawsuit

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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

Our Equine law blog (and its author) in the news!

Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

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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