Riding horses is undeniably an inherently dangerous activity. Answering why enthusiasts voluntarily participate in arguably dangerous equine sports is not difficult; answering how we encourage sponsors, organizers, and other professionals to provide for these sports - notwithstanding the potential liability exposure - is much more difficult. Participation alone in a sporting event with inherent or obvious dangerous attributes may be enough to waive liability under the legal doctrine of implied assumption of risk. Participants may also explicitly waive their right to recover through written liability releases. The legislature can further encourage inherently risky sports with statues shifting the burden from the providers onto the participants.
Equine activities, now in 47 states, are promoted by delineating responsibility of the risk onto the participant in statutes codifying the assumption of risk and explicitly enforcing written liability waivers. Yvonne C. Ocrant, a Chicago based equine transaction and litigation attorney discusses the purpose of these statutes, explains the terms of the statutes’ liability protections, details the exceptions to those protections, advises on how contracts may expand liability protections, and provides consultation on the use of insurance and limited liability companies or corporations to further insulate equine activity providers from liability exposure.
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