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Liability for Injury Due to a Loose Horse

horse, road,

Panel Expert: Lisa Hollister, Esq.

Submitted by member: kriggs64

I understand from a prominent insurance company that one of the major mortality insurance claims comes from horses being hit on the highway. My question is regarding the liability of the horse owner and the ranch owner. Can legal action be brought due to an injury or death of a person and the damage to the vehicle as a result of a loose horse on the highway?

Answer By Lisa Hollister, Esq

Today there are very few places where “open range laws” or “fence out laws” apply and those are mainly in a few western states.  Horses are classified as domesticated animals and as such they do not impose upon their owner the standard of strict liability but rather that the owner or keeper’s actions not be negligent.  An owner can be found to be negligent if the horse escapes as a result of inadequate fencing, having left a gate open and/or the horse has a known prior history of escaping.  Each state has their own body of law so make sure to check your local and state laws.  Overall, I urge everyone to maintain good liability insurance, which is far less expensive than equine mortality insurance, check their fence lines and make sure their gates are adequately shut.

Featured Image Photo Credit (CC): Thowra_uk on Flickr

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Lisa Hollister

Lisa Hollister, Esq. has been licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio since 1987 and has practiced Equine Law for the last 14 years. As an Equine Attorney, Lisa has written contracts for some of the best trainers and riders in the United States as well as representing equestrians in matters before the United States Equestrian Federation Hearing Committee. Since 2002, Lisa has been the Equine Law Columnist for Sidelines Magazine, on subjects ranging from “Your Right to Demand Arbitration When USEF Files a Charge Against You” to “Releases, Their Advantages and Limitations.”

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