Review of Filing a Lawsuit for Horseback Riding Injuries
Horseback riding injuries are often caused by negligence by property owners and trainers, or from people who are inexperienced in handling horses.
Recreational horse riding offered by companies can become dangerous when they don't adhere to proper safety guidelines.
According to California's personal injury laws, any person who sustained injuries in a horseback riding accident could file a lawsuit against those parties who are responsible.
Inexperienced children are at high-risk for sustaining serious injuries from a horseback riding accident.
Further, in the tragic situation where a rider was killed in a horse-riding accident, then the family members could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for their loss.
There are few activities more peaceful and enjoyable than horseback riding – until someone gets injured, that is.
As noted, horseback riding injuries may be the result of negligent trainers, horse owners, or handlers and personal injury laws allow anyone injured in a horseback riding accident to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the incident.
Injury claims against owners and handlers of horses are frequently called equine liability lawsuits.
If you or someone you love has suffered horseback riding injuries because of someone else's negligence in California, it's important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Common Types of Horseback Riding Injuries
From riding horses on trails, private property, or in a competition, horse riding is often dangerous. When a horse owner or a company that offers recreational horseback riding or lessons acts negligently, then the high risk of getting injured increases.
If negligence was a contributing factor that caused your injury, then you might be entitled to compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The majority of horseback riding accidents result in people being thrown from or falling from the horse's back. Common injuries include:
- Broken bones,
- Facial injuries,
- Neck and spinal injuries,
- Soft tissue injuries,
- Dislocated joints,
- Head injuries,
- Nervous system damage,
- Upper extremity injuries,
- Internal bleeding,
- Facial disfigurement,
- Eye injuries,
- Crushing injuries.
Damages in Horseback Riding Settlements
Many people take on serious medical debt following horseback riding accidents. Time off of work for injury recovery may contribute to financial hardship.
The damages available for personal injury lawsuits in California include any financial loss or harm created by the accident.
The types of damages available hinge on the severity of the accident and the injuries.
In personal injury claims, injured victims (plaintiff) may sue for compensatory damages, including:
- Ambulance costs,
- Medical bills,
- Emergency room expenses,
- Hospital bills,
- Occupational or physical therapy,
- Medical supplies,
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning capacity,
- Loss of consortium,
- Permanent scarring,
In especially egregious instances of negligence, the court may assign additional punitive damages to discourage the at-fault party from ever making the same mistake again.
Anyone involved in the horseback riding process can share the blame for these kinds of accidents.
This may include anyone aware of potential risks or anyone who ignored proper safety procedures, putting your life on the line.
Even if you share some of the blame, another person may still be liable for the injuries sustained. Those people should be held accountable for their negligence.
Individuals who may be at fault for your accident include:
- Horse owners,
- Stable owners,
- Property owners,
- Riding instructors,
- Riding clubs,
- Equipment manufacturers,
- Recreation centers,
- Other riders.
These are just a handful of the kinds of people whose negligence may have contributed to your horseback riding accident. A full investigation is often required to understand what led to the incident.
Liability in Horse Accident Lawsuits
Readers should note that waivers that were signed at the time of rental don't necessarily limit liability for the rider.
A recreational horseback rental company in California can't simply block all liability through a waiver. Our personal injury lawyers might be able to help you with your recovering compensation even if you signed a waiver.
A horseback rental company might be held liable for injuries in the following situations:
- Inadequate equipment,
- Failing to properly train the horse,
- Failing to tell rider of past incidents by the horse,
- Failing to properly inspect trails or premises,
- Letting an injured horse accept new riders,
- Failing to match a rider with the proper horse,
- Mistreating horses during a ride.
Under the comparative fault law in California, you could still be eligible to recover damages in a personal injury accident even if you are partly to blame for the accident.
This simply means the victim's damages can be reduced to reflect the shared level of fault.
Defenses Against Horse Accidents
In many horseback riding accidents, the owner will often make claims that you can't file a lawsuit for damages against them, which is of course not accurate.
The details of the incident matter which is why you need to consult with a lawyer about whether you have a valid claim.
Horse owners will attempt to use several defenses when they are being sued for damages in a horseback riding accident, such as:
- Victim was responsible,
- Victim signed a liability waiver,
- Assumption of risk
Further, horse owners have a duty of care to anyone who enters onto their property under the premises liability laws in California.
The assumption of risk legal defense is an attempt to place liability for the injury to the individual who engaged in risky activity, such as horse riding.
In a personal injury lawsuit for a horseback riding accident, the assumption of the risk defense means the responsible party will try to show the victim voluntarily decided to ride their horse which simply carries a natural risk of falling off the horse.
Readers should note that just because there is an inherent risk of falling off the horse, it does not always mean someone else was not negligent or responsible for the accident.
Injured horseback riders could still file an injury lawsuit as long as the horse owner was reckless or grossly negligent.
What to Do After a Horseback Riding Accident
It's important to seek medical attention as soon after an accident as possible. Regardless of whether you've been thrown from the horse, kicked, or stepped on, a medical exam is necessary to assess your injuries and document your experience. Call 911 immediately.
Collecting evidence is another important step to take after being involved in a horseback riding accident.
Capture photos of the horse involved in the incident, the riding trail, the location of the accident, and your injuries.
Experienced personal injury lawyers can use such photos to confirm the time, location, and circumstances that led to your accident.
Photos of the horse can capture important details about the equipment used and the animal's condition.
Witness testimony can be incredibly helpful in pursuing compensation after a horseback riding accident.
While the staff at the venue may be reluctant to go on record, other visitors may be willing to speak up. Collect their contact info and, if they are willing, record their statement on film using your cell phone.
Horseback Riding Liability Waivers
Be cautious in your conversations with the venue operator, horse owner, or property owner after your accident.
In the heat of the moment, you may feel inclined to apologize for your perceived role in the incident.
It's often difficult to know exactly what happened in the immediate aftermath, though. Admissions of fault or apologies may complicate your claim for damages.
Resist any requests to sign a form waiving your right to collect damages. While you might have signed a liability waiver before your ride, it does not override your legal rights.
Only the evidence can determine whether or not you should proceed with a horseback riding accident lawsuit.
In some cases, you may be approached with a settlement offer soon after your accident.
Don't accept the offer without a full understanding of your legal position. An experienced California personal injury lawyer can help you navigate this process.
At Injury Justice Law Firm, our personal injury law firm has the knowledge and experience to obtain a full recovery for your horseback riding accident claim.
If you have been injured while riding a horse or involved in an equestrian accident, call our firm at (818) 781-1570.