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Horse’s Owner Immune from Liability in Case Brought by Camp Counselor Injured While Riding Horse

In a recent case, after a 19-year-old was injured while riding a horse at a summer camp, he brought a lawsuit against the individual who provided the horses. The boy had been riding the horse at the camp where he worked as a camp counselor in the equine activities program. He had been out on a trail ride with the horse when the horse jumped over a small stream. The boy lost his balance and fell off the horse, and the horse landed on top of him. The defendant had contracted with the summer camp to provide the horses.

HorseThe boy sued, alleging negligence and willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons riding the horse. The defendant moved for summary judgment, based on the immunity granted by Georgia’s Equine Act. The Equine Act limits the liability of those involved in equine activities but provides for some exceptions. The boy argued that two exceptions applied in his case.

First, he claimed the defendant was liable because he provided an animal but failed to make reasonable efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the activity and to safely manage the animal. The court found that in this case, the defendant provided the horse to the camp, and the camp supervisor assigned the particular horse to the boy. Thus, since the defendant did not assign the horse to the boy himself, the exception did not apply. Another exception exists when a person willfully or wantonly disregards the safety of the participant. Here, this horse had been provided to the camp for two previous summers, and there was no evidence of previous incidents with this horse. As a result, the second exception also did not apply. The court noted that the boy’s injuries resulted from the inherent risks of equine activities, which is the type of injury the Act was meant to protect. Accordingly, the boy could not recover from the defendant under the Act.

Liability Under Georgia’s Injuries From Equine or Llama Activities Act

Georgia’s Injuries From Equine or Llama Activities Act, OCGA 4-12-1, limits the liability of those involved in equine activities. It recognizes that risks are inherent in equine activities and also that people benefit from equine activities, both personally and economically. Thus, to encourage people to engage in such activities, the Act provides immunity for those involved, with certain narrowly defined exceptions.

The Act provides exceptions generally in the following circumstances. First, the defendant provided equipment that the person knew or should have known was faulty. Second, the defendant provided the animal but failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity or llama activity and to safely manage the particular animal, based on the participant’s representations of his or her ability. Third, the injury was due to a dangerous latent condition that was known or should have been known to the defendant. Fourth, the defendant willfully or wantonly disregarded the safety of the participant. Fifth, the defendant intentionally injured the participant.

Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

The McAleer Law Firm is ready to fight for the rights of victims in the Atlanta metro area and other Georgia communities, such as Alpharetta, Conyers, Decatur, Gainesville, Lawrenceville, Macon, Norcross, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Stone Mountain. Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys can help you explore your full range of options and advocate vigorously throughout the legal process. We serve Georgia residents who need an accident attorney or assistance in any other type of personal injury claim, as well as claimants seeking workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability benefits. Call us at 404-622-5337 or contact us through our online form.

See More Posts:

Family Injured in Car Accident Barred from Challenging Inconsistent Damages Awards, Due to Failure to Object to Alleged Error at Trial, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, December 29, 2016.

Georgia Court of Appeals Finds in Plaintiff’s Favor in Nursing Home Slip-and-Fall Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, January 10, 2017.