Horse Accident FAQs

North Carolina has a specific Chapter in our General Statutes devoted to addressing liability for accidents involving horses. The statute defines several key terms, and it thoroughly sets forth specific privileges of immunity for the owners and sponsors of equine activities. North Carolina General Statute § 99E-1 sets forth the following definitions for these key terms:

  1. “Equine activity” means any activity involving an equine. Actions to preserve, maintain, or regulate the use of land for equestrian recreation shall not be considered an equine activity.
  2. “Equine” means a horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny.
  3. “Sponsor” means an individual, group, club, partnership, or corporation, whether the sponsor is operating for profit or nonprofit, which sponsor, organizes, or provides the facilities for an equine activity. The term includes operators and promoters of equine facilities. A landowner who allows equine recreation on the landowners’ property shall not be considered an equine activity sponsor.
  4. “Equine professional” means a person engaged for compensation in any one or more of the following:
    • Instructing a participant.
    • Renting an equine to a participant for the purpose of riding, driving, or being a passenger upon the equine.
    • Renting equipment or track to a participant.
    • Examining or administering medical treatment to an equine.
    • Hooftrimming or placing or preplacing horseshoes on an equine.
  5. “Inherent risks of equine activities” means those dangers or conditions that are an integral part of engaging in an equine activity, including any of the following:
    • The possibility of an equine behaving in ways that may result in injury, harm, or death to a person on or around them.
    • The unpredictability of an equine’s reaction to such things as sound, sudden movement, unfamiliar objects, persons, or other animals.
  6. “Participant” means any person, whether amateur or professional, who engages in an equine activity, whether or not a fee is paid to participate in the equine activity.
North Carolina General Statute § 99E-2 provides that owners and sponsors of all activities involving horses SHALL not be liable for injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks, as defined above, of activities associated with horses. Immunity means that the sponsor or owner is not liable and cannot be sued for the injury or death. However, the statute does provide several exceptions to this immunity: Nothing in the Statute shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person engaged in an equine activity if the equine activity sponsor, equine profession, or person engaged in an equine activity does any one or more of the following:
  1. Provide the equipment or take, and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and such faulty equipment or take proximately caused the injury, damage or death.
  2. Provides the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity or to safely manage the particular equine.
  3. Commits an act or omission that constitutes a wilful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, and that act or omission proximately caused the injury, damage or death. Or
  4. The owner or sponsor committed an act of negligence that caused the damage, injury or death.
In addition, the owner/sponsor is required to post a specifically worded warning that addresses the inherent risks involved in horse activities. If the sponsor fails to post the warning, then the sponsor cannot claim the immunity protections provided in chapter. North Carolina General Statute § 99E-3 provides that the warning notice shall contain the following language: “WARNING. Under North Carolina law, an equine activity sponsor or equine professional is not liability for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine activities resulting exclusively from the inherent risks of equine activities. Chapter 99E of the North Carolina General Statutes.”

Horse Accident Injuries We Have Handled

The attorneys at the law offices of Riddle & Brantley have handled some accidents involving horses in the past. In most cases, the accidents were caused by the improper use of equipment or negligent management of the activity. In one case, the saddle was not properly secured and the rider suffered injuries in a fall off the horse. In another accident, the sponsor or trainer intentionally caused the horse to throw the rider in an effort to teach the rider how to fall. We have even handled a horse bite case in the past where the person was severely bitten and scarred by the bite. However, it is very important to note that in order to be successful in this type of case you must be able to prove that the accident and injury was caused by some act of negligence on the part of the sponsor and did not occur just because the horse acted like a horse and threw the rider. If you or a loved one has been injured in horse accident we would welcome the opportunity to review the facts of your case and help you determine if you have a claim to pursue. Please call us at (800) 525-7111 or contact us online by filling out and sending our free case review form. At Riddle & Brantley, we only get paid when we obtain a recovery on your claim.