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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My trainer hired a commercial horse transporter to ship a load of eight horses from New York to Florida. We have used this particular transporter quite a few times over the past 11 years and never had a problem. However, when the horses arrived at the trainer's facility in Florida, my horse limped off the trailer with a big slice across his right hind pastern. He would not put any weight on his heel and his lower leg was swollen. (The other horses on the trailer were fine.). My husband saw the driver the next day at a neighboring farm, and he asked what could have possibly cut our horse like that, especially since the other seven horses were unharmed. The driver showed my husband a photo he had taken of the inside of the trailer. The driver said a strip of aluminum that was supposed to be securing the rubber mats had come loose and was sticking out perpendicular to the wall of the trailer. The metal strip was directly behind where our horse’s right hind leg would have been. We do not know if there was a defect in the trailer, or if it was a maintenance issue that the transporter failed to take care of, or if our horse kicked out and the metal strip loosened because of that. I find it hard to believe that our horse was kicking repeatedly because he is a very well-mannered, laid back individual. I have ridden with my trainer on other trips and our horse loads easily and doesn't make a fuss in the trailer.

I won’t get into all the details of the injury as I did that in a different post under Horse Health (see Lacerated SDFT and infected tendon sheath). In a nutshell, the injury was life threatening and possibly career ending. He is out of the woods now as far as the tendon sheath infection, but we are looking at a year of rehab with a 50/50 chance of returning to performance.

Unfortunately, things have gotten kind of ugly because when my husband called the transporter to ask the owner of the company to put a claim through his commercial liability insurance, the guy told my husband, "I don't have any insurance." (His web site shows that he is "fully licensed and insured".) The guy actually told my husband, "Look, if the horse was that valuable, you should have used a more expensive shipper to haul him for you." What kind of answer is that??? We have never taken any kind of legal action against anyone ever, but we are so very upset over this whole thing and the vet bills are continuing to add up. We are just looking for some kind of monetary help with the vet bills. But when you think about it, this is an extremely dangerous situation. What if the trailer was involved in an accident on the interstate and injured or killed other motorists? What happens then? Does the guy just tell those grieving families, "Oh sorry, I don't have insurance"? The guy has four 8-horse trailers in his fleet (and doesn't own any of his own horses, I should point out) yet he claims he hauls horses "on the side" and that it's not an actual business. I don't know anybody who owns four 8-horse trailers who is just hauling horses as a hobby. I have invoices from the guy dating back almost 12 years! Clearly it is not just a hobby for him.

Anyway, the moral of the story here is to insist on seeing proof of commercial liability insurance when hiring a horse transporter. Don’t believe what somebody tells you or what is shown on his or her company’s web site.
 

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Just because he doesn't have insurance doesn't mean that he can't be held liable. Also, when I had my horse transported to me after purchase, I bought insurance for her myself just in case any accidents, injuries, or even death took place during the trip. Also, I would think that even if he were insured, it would have to be proven that this injury happened through the negligence of the transporter through faulty equipment.

I hope that your boy has a full recovery from his injury. I feel bad that this happened to him.
 

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I hope you saved pictures of the inside of that trailer so you can prove it was the fault of his own equipment. I would be taking legal action if I were you. Not out of spite, but to cover vet bills. Agree with @LoriF - he can still be held liable even without insurance. He might even be charged for claiming he has insurance when he does not, as that would be advertising false services, although I'm not sure how the law works on that one so I can't guarantee that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just because he doesn't have insurance doesn't mean that he can't be held liable. Also, when I had my horse transported to me after purchase, I bought insurance for her myself just in case any accidents, injuries, or even death took place during the trip. Also, I would think that even if he were insured, it would have to be proven that this injury happened through the negligence of the transporter through faulty equipment.

I hope that your boy has a full recovery from his injury. I feel bad that this happened to him.
We do have insurance on our horse but it is strictly for mortality and theft. He is a Thoroughbred race horse and insurance companies do not offer loss-of-use policies that cover sickness or injuries because of the potential for loss that exists.

The transporter told my husband the same thing you just said...that we should have purchased our own shipping insurance policy on our horse. It is so aggravating and frustrating to me that horse transporters can basically just say, "Oh well, not my problem." I don't know of any other business that operates like that, where they put the responsibility back on the customer for damages. If you are at an amusement park and your child gets injured on one of the rides, I can't imagine the amusement park saying, "Oh well, you should have taken out amusement park insurance on your kid just in case he got hurt while he's here at our facility." It is just bizarre to me.

You are right about having to prove negligence or mechanical defect on the part of the transportation company, his driver, or his equipment. We did speak to an equine liability attorney and that was her concern as well. However, she did bring up a number of very serious issues that should be addressed with this guy. For example, if he's trying to say he doesn't operate a business, then most likely he's not paying taxes on any of the income he's making from hauling horses. So there's an issue of tax evasion. And there's big issues with the Department of Transportation because he is hauling horses across state lines without a DOT number and without commercial liability insurance. And we do not even know if he has a commercial driver's license. In the U.S., if the trailer weighs 10,000 pounds or more (loaded) and the combined loaded weight (of truck and trailer) is 26,001 or more pounds, the driver is required to have a CDL.

Interestingly, if we had taken out shipping insurance on our boy and our insurance company covered the vet bills, the insurance company in turn would go after the transportation company in order to recover the money paid out on the claim. So the shipper would have to deal with all of the above issues anyway. Our attorney is going to be sending a demand letter to the transporter, so we will see how that goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I hope you saved pictures of the inside of that trailer so you can prove it was the fault of his own equipment. I would be taking legal action if I were you. Not out of spite, but to cover vet bills. Agree with @LoriF - he can still be held liable even without insurance. He might even be charged for claiming he has insurance when he does not, as that would be advertising false services, although I'm not sure how the law works on that one so I can't guarantee that.
Yes, we are going to move forward with legal action. But the attorney warned us that it could get expensive. She suggested sending a demand letter to start with and see what type of response she receives from the shipper. I agree with you 100% - we are not doing this out of spite. We just want some assistance with the vet bills. And you bring up a good point - I did not even think of the false advertising angle. I don't know how the law works on that one either. I'll let you know what the attorney says.
 

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I didn't say that you should have taken out insurance for shipping, I said that is what I did. I also think that he should still be liable if you can prove that his equipment was faulty and cause injury. And, you are right. If you did have shipping insurance and made a claim, yes, they would go after him as well. Totally wrong to say on website that he's insured when in fact he isn't.
 

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Make sure you get a screen copy of his website before he removes the part about insurance from the site. I would go in and get a copy of each page of his website and save it on your computer. Also try and get a copy of the picture of the piece of wire that came loose in the trailer. That would go a long way to proving your case.



Who was there when the horse was unloaded? This is why cell-phone cameras are nice to have on you. You needed a picture of the inside of his trailer.
 

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Make sure you get a screen copy of his website before he removes the part about insurance from the site. I would go in and get a copy of each page of his website and save it on your computer. Also try and get a copy of the picture of the piece of wire that came loose in the trailer. That would go a long way to proving your case.



Who was there when the horse was unloaded? This is why cell-phone cameras are nice to have on you. You needed a picture of the inside of his trailer.
This is good advise.

Things can be changed so quickly on a website, much better to have the proof and make sure he knows it.

The letter will most likely at least scare him a bit. He sounds over confident so has probably gotten away with basically ignoring and disrespecting his customers.

Not good for repeat business, and you can also file a claim with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Make sure you get a screen copy of his website before he removes the part about insurance from the site. I would go in and get a copy of each page of his website and save it on your computer. Also try and get a copy of the picture of the piece of wire that came loose in the trailer. That would go a long way to proving your case.



Who was there when the horse was unloaded? This is why cell-phone cameras are nice to have on you. You needed a picture of the inside of his trailer.
Oh yes we definitely printed the information from his website with the footer clearly showing the site's URL as well as the date and time. So even if he takes it down or alters it later, we have proof that as as December 2019 (and actually even today!) it showed "fully licensed and insured".

The horses were delivered to our trainer's farm, so our trainer was there to receive them on the day they arrived.

If you go back and read my original post, you will see that the driver of the truck and 8-horse trailer took photographs with his cell phone. He told the trainer (and later my husband) that a metal strip had come loose inside the trailer directly behind our horse's right hind leg. He showed the photograph to both of them and apologized for the injury. He said, "We try to get them to their destination safely, but you know, sometimes things happen." The owner of the transportation company, however, would not take any responsibility upon hearing of the injury and claimed he does not have any insurance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is good advise.

The letter will most likely at least scare him a bit. He sounds over confident so has probably gotten away with basically ignoring and disrespecting his customers.

Not good for repeat business, and you can also file a claim with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
He is definitely very arrogant about the whole thing and has taken a "sucks to be you" attitude. Not good!

I like your idea about filing a claim with the Better Business Bureau. As far as our horse, I just want to help him recover from this. But I don't want anyone else to have to go through something like this.
 

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He is definitely very arrogant about the whole thing and has taken a "sucks to be you" attitude. Not good!

I like your idea about filing a claim with the Better Business Bureau. As far as our horse, I just want to help him recover from this. But I don't want anyone else to have to go through something like this.
I have even a few times written my own letter, in a very professional manner, listing exactly what I expect monetarily, and c.c. to my attorney's name and firm. Has usually resulted in the response I want...
 

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A little late for this but some articles that write of shipping horses commercially and what is needed...
Recognizing an Illegal Hauler | National Horse Carriers Association
Preparation to Ship | National Horse Carriers Association

If he is/was legit, then he by law has to have/had certain things by mandate.
Insurance is one of them, but how much he is covered for is something totally different.
I know you want to make him pay, but you need to pay bills and treat the animal...
Have you contacted your homeowners company to see if there is coverage for the animals needs?
Surprisingly, more is covered than you think...
If you paid for the ship by credit card, there may be some coverage through your credit card company...
Many people not know if you rent a car and are involved in a accident...credit card company covers a lot.
You originated in NYS, they have very strict rules and laws about horse hauling commercial operations...
You need to speak to a attorney who specializes in motor carrier insurance issues and DOT compliance since you went interstate {crossed states} rules are very different than staying in-state called intrastate..
Although a forum gets you much sympathy, you need facts and the only place to find specific to your situation is with a specialty attorney.
If the horse is registered, some registries/organizations have legal counsel for their members available for horse-related and specific things and might be able to head you in the right direction.
That's all I got...

I hope the horse will make a full recovery and return to a career enjoyed by both of you.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wouldn't insurance follow the vehicle that is pulling the trailer?
No, not necessarily. The owner of the company has insurance on his vehicle, but it is not commercial insurance. It's just personal liability coverage that any driver on the road would have for their own personal car or truck. The insurance company is not going to pay on any claims once they learn that the guy is using the vehicle for commercial purposes on a daily basis.
 

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Your comment, "The owner of the company has insurance on his vehicle, but it is not commercial insurance. It's just personal liability coverage that any driver on the road would have for their own personal car or truck." makes me think you did not have a professional commercial shipper move your horse.
You may have to sue him for costs...
If he wasn't legal and a business, real business entity with license, regulated by the Ag Department & DOT numbers, then you might not have any recourse but to sue.
Your bill and shipping contract should clearly have his registration numbers for his business from his state of origin along with his DOT numbers for handling of horses/livestock and permission about crossing state lines with said livestock.
Some companies are a registered trucking company and haul horses but it is a very different licensing done for commercial horse shipping companies.
Only personal liability though stinks of just some guy with a trailer and truck making money driving horses around.

Was the truck lettered/placard seen? Was the trailer placarded with business name?
Did you see DOT numbers on truck/trailer?
And how large a rig was this?
Most commercial shippers run tractor-trailers on the I95 corridor shipping horses or a obvious 4 -6 horse horse van...
https://www.brookledge.com/
Elite Horse Transport for National and Local Service | 48 States and Canada


Anyone can make a claim of "official" but background checking for registered, insured and licensed appropriate business, drivers, rigs...you can't just believe what someone pays to advertise and can't hold a publishing/media responsible for either.
Publishers are presented with content/details the customer wants in print...it is the responsibility of the customer to sniff out legit or underhanded dealings.
I'm sorry, but the more you write the worse it sounds....sure hope I'm very wrong.
:runninghorse2:....
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Only personal liability though stinks of just some guy with a trailer and truck making money driving horses around.

Was the truck lettered/placard seen? Was the trailer placarded with business name?
Did you see DOT numbers on truck/trailer?
And how large a rig was this?

Anyone can make a claim of "official" but background checking for registered, insured and licensed appropriate business, drivers, rigs...you can't just believe what someone pays to advertise and can't hold a publishing/media responsible for either.
Publishers are presented with content/details the customer wants in print...it is the responsibility of the customer to sniff out legit or underhanded dealings.
I'm sorry, but the more you write the worse it sounds....sure hope I'm very wrong.
:runninghorse2:....
Unfortunately, the more our attorney delves into this, the more it looks like you are right. I don't remember if there were DOT numbers on his truck/trailer. That is one of the things our attorney is requesting in her demand letter - that he produce his CDL, his DOT number, his business license, proof of insurance, pre-trip inspection logs, etc.

As far as the size of the rig, this guy owns FOUR 8-horse trailers. I don't know anyone who owns that many haulers just for the heck of it. What is scary is that hundreds of people have been using his services for at least the past decade to haul Thoroughbred racehorses and show horses, some of them with a six-figure value. It would appear that he is making the income of a commercial hauler like Brookledge or Sallee without having to pay the expenses of a commercial horse transporter.
 

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How awful. I'm sorry this happened to your horse. I would want this guy to pay, not just for vet bills, but to take him off the market. He has no business representing himself as a commercial horse transporter without any insurance. Even if he claims it is not a business (four 8 horse trailers and he doesn't own any horses???), there are a lot of problems with what he is doing. He would have been smarter to just pay your vet bills because this is going to put him out of business, or worse.
 

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If the lawyer comes up empty, write an article for the newspapers. Be sure you have facts and no guesses... Send him a preview of the article along with a list of the papers and magazines you intend to submit it to. Hit as many periodicals that serve his client base as you can find. The prospect of wide-spread bad publicity may be enough to give him a change of heart. If he doesn't respond in a week, send the article out.

You may not get any recompense, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you saved someone else from the hell you're going through.
 
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