When children are
involved, notify the parents immediately, regardless of how minor the
injury. In the case of adults, notify relatives or friends of the injured
Contact your insurance
carrier as soon as the accident scene has been controlled and the injured
party is given proper medical attention. The insurance carrier will want
to know the details of the accident and will inform you on how to proceed.
Especially in the case of serious injuries, contact your lawyer, who will
be able to give you detailed instruction on investigating the accident,
as well as advice on handling the public and your other customers. Be
absolutely truthful with your attorney; whatever you relate is protected
by the attorney-client relationship, and will therefore remain confidential.
Maintain proper insurance for the facility, and inform your agent what types of activities go on.
should include interviewing witnesses and those involved in order to determine
how the accident occurred, as well as how the injured party was handled
following the accident. If the accident involves outside material, such
as a piece of tack that broke, it should be kept in the condition it was
found during the investigation. All materials relating to the accident
should be turned over to your attorney or insurance company, along with
waivers or releases signed by the injured party.
While you may feel
very badly about the injury, refrain from assigning fault to anyone. You
will undoubtedly receive many inquiries as to what happened. The best
approach is to generally define what happened, without assessing the cause
or assigning fault.
Take steps before
any accident occurs: Maintain proper insurance for the facility, and inform
your insurance agent what types of activities go on there. Failure to
properly describe the activities could void coverage. Not only will the
proper insurance policy provide you coverage for accidents, it will often
also pay for defense of a lawsuit.
Obtain a medical
consent form from the parents of each minor who interacts with horses
at your facility. Keep these forms in a single, central location, which
will make them easy to find.
Make sure that each
participant signs a liability release, if allowed in your state. A liability
release will clearly define the dangers of inter- acting with horses,
as well as the participant's "assumption of the risk" of the activity.
It's also an excellent
idea to post warning signs. Currently, 43 states have enacted Equine Activity
Liability Statutes. These statutes often limit the liability of owners
and operators. Many of these statutes require posted signs with specific
Review the Equine
Activity Liability Statute for your state to determine your posting requirements.