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New York is 48th State to Enact an Equine Liability Law

On October 23, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law that state’s version of an equine activity liability law. Here is a link. The law took immediate effect.

Whom the Law Affects

New York’s law applies to “operators” of “Agricultural Tourism” activities. It applies to “equine activities both outdoors and indoors” and includes a definition of “equine therapy” to include “equine activities for children or adults with physical or mental disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder or other condition for which equine therapy is sought for therapeutic purposes or treatment.” 

Conditional Liability Limitations

This law makes immunities conditional upon compliance with responsibilities as the law describes for “operators” and “visitors.”  The liability limitation section states:

Owners and operators of agricultural tourism areas shall not be liable for an injury to or death of a visitor if the provisions of this subdivision are complied with.

Section 18-303(1)(F); emphasis added.

Responsibilities of “Operators”

Section 18-303(1) provides that “operators” of “agricultural tourism areas” “shall” have these responsibilities:

  • “To post and maintain way finding signage to delineate the paths, areas and buildings that are open to the public” [Section 18-303(1)(A)] ;
  • “To adequately train employees who are actively involved in agricultural tourism activities” [Section 18-303(1)(B)];
  • “To post at every point of sale or distribution of tickets, whether on or off the premises of the agricultural tourism area, a conspicuous ‘warning to visitors’ relative to the inherent risks of participating in activities on working farms and to provide written information having such text and graphics as the commissioner of agriculture and markets shall specify, which shall conspicuously direct the attention of all visitors to the required ‘warning to visitors’” [Section 18-303(1)(C)];
  • “To post at every point of sale or distribution of tickets at an agricultural tourism area a conspicuous notice to visitors that pursuant to this article such visitors have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care regarding the disclosed risks of the agricultural activity, and reasonably comply with posted way finding signs, reasonably remain in areas designated for the agricultural tourism activity, reasonably follow any and all written and conspicuously posted rules of conduct provided by such operator to visitors or verbal or other communication for persons with disabilities, and not to willfully remove, deface, alter or otherwise damage signage, warning devices or implements, or other safety devices” [Section 18-303(1)(D) ];
  • “To take reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable risks to visitors, consistent with the responsibility of a landowner to keep his or her premises reasonably safe for intended and reasonably foreseeable uses and users, and to post conspicuous notice to visitors of the right to a refund to the purchaser in the amount paid in the initial sale of any tickets returned to the operator of the agricultural tourism area, intact and unused, upon declaration by such purchaser that he or she believes that he or she is unprepared or that he or she is unwilling to participate in the agricultural tourism activity due to the risks inherent in the activities or the duties imposed upon him or her by this section” [Section 18-303(1)(E)].

Responsibilities of Visitors

Section (2) of the law states that visitors to “agricultural tourism areas” have certain responsibilities, which are:

  • “To exercise reasonable care regarding the disclosed risks of the agricultural activity” [Section 18-303(2)];
  • “To reasonably comply with posted way finding signs and reasonably remain in areas designated for the agricultural tourism activity” [Section 18-303(2)(A)];
  • “To reasonably follow any and all written information or conspicuously posted rules of conduct provided by such operator to visitors, or verbal or other form of communication of rules of conduct where needed for effective communication for people with disabilities” [Section 18-303(2)(B)]; and
  • “Not to willfully remove, deface, alter or otherwise damage signage, warning devices or implements or other safety devices” [Section 18-303(2)(C)].

More Information

New York’s law is very different from the 47 other state equine activity liability laws. It combines equine activities with numerous other activities (such as “U-pick” farms, farm tours, winery tours, and others) and, as enacted, offers little direction regarding compliance, and no required language for signs.  For more information on how the law may impact you, discuss the law with a knowledgeable lawyer or contact the New York State Horse Council, which supported the legislation.

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

Photo of Julie I. 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.

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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.

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 

What our Equine Law Services can Provide

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. 


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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