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Rachel Kosmal McCart is a lifelong horsewoman and the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, PC, an equine law firm based in the Portland, Oregon area. Rachel is a member of the New York, California, Oregon and Washington State bars and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rachel currently competes in three-day eventing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Equine-related Liability: A Simple Explanation

At Equine Legal Solutions, we receive many calls from folks inquiring about whether they or someone else have liability for a horse-related incident. In a society where fast food diners can successfully sue over too-hot coffee, there is a lot of misinformation about liability and what creates it. In fact, the perspective of "I got hurt, so it must be someone else's fault" is alarmingly common.

However, in reality, there are four basic elements of liability. (1) The other person must have a legal duty to you and (2) the other person must breach that duty. To successfully pursue a claim, the you have to show (1) and (2), and also show (3) you suffered damages and (4) that the damages were proximately caused by (2). As the plaintiff in a civil case, you have the burden of proof, which is to show by a preponderance of the evidence that elements 1-4 are present. If you cannot adequately prove elements 1-4 are present, you do not have a sound legal basis for liability. Note that whether or not the defendant is insured does not enter into the assessment of liability, and nor does the relative ability of the parties to pay.

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