Communication Can Save Lives and Avoid Horse Boarding Disputes
Never did the stable owner expect to be sued. A horse in his care became injured in the pasture, with a large wound, but the stable owner thought he had it under control. He dressed the wound, gave the horse a penicillin shot using old medication in the barn refrigerator, left the horse in the stall for a few days to rest and recover, and gave the horse only quick checks in the days that followed. There was no need to call a veterinarian, he thought. Several days later, however, the horse’s condition worsened to a very serious point, and by the time a veterinarian was summoned, the horse had to be put down. It turned out that the cut was more severe than the stable owner thought, and the penicillin was unsuitable for the horse. At the very end, a surprised horse owner received the call that the horse was gone.
In this example, the stable owner’s actions led to the horse’s death under circumstances that were avoidable. The stable owner created other problems, as well. The horse owner’s equine mortality insurance claim was denied because the insurer believed two provisions of the policy were violated. First, the policy required only veterinarians to administer or supervise injections, but the stable administered the penicillin shot independently. Second, the policy required the owner (or someone of the owner’s behalf) to promptly notify the insurer if the horse became injured or ill, but nobody notified the insurer until several days had passed and when the horse was already a candidate for euthanasia.
How Communication Could Have Changed the Scenario
Prompt communication could potentially save a horse’s life. It can also spare the horse owner a considerable amount of money and avoid legal disputes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Stables can ask owners to give contact numbers in case the boarded horse becomes injured or ill. That way, the stable or trainer has an opportunity to seek the owner’s approval before veterinary attention is either withheld or sought.
- The boarding and/or training contract can require the stable to notify the owner any time the horse becomes injured or ill and seek approval from the owner.
- Horse owners can keep their boarding stables and trainers aware if the horse is insured with equine insurance. Importantly, stable owners and trainers can receive the insurer’s most current, designated (800) notice number and policy information in case the stable or trainer must place a call on the owner’s behalf. Equine insurance companies accept these calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Late notice could potentially justify the insurer in denying an equine mortality and major medical insurance claim.
- Horse owners can leave a credit card on file with the regular attending veterinarian and encourage the stable to call the vet in the owner’s absence.
- Stables and trainers can seek written authorization to arrange veterinary attention, at their discretion, if the owner cannot be reached. Boarding and training contracts can include this.
This article does not constitute legal advice. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.
Julie Fershtman is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three 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.View All Posts by Author ›
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Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:
National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants.
U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability.
IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”
National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics.
Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”
2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”
November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”
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
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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 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.
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Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association 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.
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