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.