Question about waiver and it's power
Hello everyone. Massive reading ahead. I apologize in advance for those who undertake this problem :)
Recently I've started at a new barn (have had two lessons) and have been given a waiver to sign, which is standard practice from what I've experienced. There are some parts of this waiver that I question, as does my mother, who I asked to read it after my confusion.
I was wondering if someone could give their opinion or take on what the sections imply? Also, if something was to ever happen, how much weight would this waiver actually hold? Especially considering the fact that at the end of the waiver, it states it must be completed, signed, dated and witnessed before any activity with horses may be undertaken. I've ridden twice already and only got the waiver after second ride.
1st: Assumption of Risks - (under heading) I am aware and understand that activities involving these horses involve many risks, dangers, and hazards, including, but not limited to the following:
(This is the final point under this heading) - Negligence on the part of a property owner and/or the provider or their staff. I am also aware that the risks, dangers and hazards referred to above exist throughout the trail, stable, practice and other areas and many are unmarked. I understand and acknowledge that no amount of caution, experience or instruction can eliminate all of the risks involved and I freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards and the possibility of personal injury, death, property damages or loss resulting there from.
Now I've been riding for a long while and I'm fairly mature/intelligent. I understand and do take blame for anything that would happen if I caused it (stupid conduct around horses, improper tack-up, etc.) and I understand that horses can be unpredictable, no matter how old or trained. Things happen. But is that clause saying that I assume responsibility for mistakes/stupidity on the barn owner/instructor's part? Or on a boarder's/leaser's?
The second part.
Release of liability, waiver of claims and indemnity agreement
In consideration of the provider providing me with their ...horse...and other services and permitting my user of their equipment, and other facilities and the property owners providing me with the use of their property..., I hereby agree as follows:
-To waive any and all claims that I or my child have or may in the future have against a property owner or the provider...(essentially anyone that represents the barn in any way like staff and employees. Referred to as releasees) and to release the releasees from any and all liability for any loss, damage, injury or expense that I or my child may suffer, or next of kin, may suffer as a result of my or my child's use of the services or due to any cause whatsoever. Including negligence, breach of contract, or breach of any statutory or other duty of care including any duty of care owned under the 'occupiers liability act' on the part of the releasees.
So for those brave enough to get through that mountain of text, what exactly is this saying? That even if the barn owner started whipping the horse I was riding and I was thrown and injured as a result of that, that I wouldn't be able to take any legal action?
I know that nothing likely will happen and the instructor I have seems to be very careful and safe, but there's a small 'just in case' thought to this. Especially since from what I get, the second thing I question frees co-op/volunteers of responsibility. I've heard stories just about crazy co-ops and volunteers in general but the instructor also told me about one they've had.... I don't want my parents to be paying huge hospital bills or even being sued if something happened and was clearly due to instructor/BO/volunteers' fault. Are these types of clauses common? It's the longest waiver I've had to sign regarding horses and I've never had something removing the BO/instructor of responsibility of negligence. Thanks for anyone who tries to help or even gets through all that! lol.
Here is a good website for reading:
A lot depends on the state, since these things fall under state law. You can usually ask an attorney a few questions fairly cheap if you go thru your local bar association referral. In Pima County, your $35 pays for 30 minutes talking to an attorney.
If I ever have a waiver written, I will want it to release me from everything. A single lawsuit, even if unsuccessful, can drive a business out of business. And if I had a stable, I'd want a release covering the stupidity of other people, and their maliciousness. I wouldn't want to lose everything because one of my employees saw a bumper sticker on your car that he didn't agree with so he went nuts and cut your cinch.
The way I figure it, the world is a dangerous place, and you are responsible for anything other than harm due to malicious acts done by the person you are suing. Unhappily, that is NOT our current legal liability law.
Here is what I consider a scary example from the conservative state of Utah:
I dont know what the livestock equine laws are in your state. First off , check out those laws. I am no expert not an attorney, but that sounds pretty off to me. They are basically saying you waive the right to sue, collect $$ for any reason regardless of whose fault it is. I would want it amended. The barn owner is responsible to keep the place free of hazards and in good repair. Also , they should have insurance.
Some people refer to that as a "hold harmless" agreement. You do need to discuss with a lawyer because I've read many case files in which it was ruled that "hold harmless" agreements were not valid because you cannot blanket waive your right to sue for someone's negligence.
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Thanks for replying people! :)
I'm actually not in a state, but a province lol. I live in Ontario, Canada. So I don't know what differs. Seems like the general opinion is so far to go to lawyer/attorney. Was hoping to avoid that but I understand why that's a good path to follow. I'm definitely not a sue happy, "I got a scratch and you must pay 10k+" type of person and the barn is well put together, the instructor seems trustworthy, but you never know eh? I know the barn I ride at is insured and I'm currently looking at rider insurance. The waiver just seems to be removing ALL blame from anyone employed/owning the barn. Rubs me the wrong way with a barn that seems to have it all together. To me, a barn with frequent 'incidents' would have a waiver like that. But that might just be me.
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Negligence is mainly a matter of opinion.
Just because they have a waiver that doesn't mean they have accidents. They have the waiver to help save them for that "Just in case" moment. Since they have on going lessons, they need something in place. I don't know if a contract like this would hold up,in court in Ontario, I know it would in Saskatchewan. Check out this site and see if something here helps you out.
SafetyOntario Equestrian Federation
Equine laws in Ontario
Horse Riding Safety Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 4
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