SYNOPSIS: AN ACT to limit the civil liability of persons participating in equine activities, amending a named Act.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:
Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Equine Activity Liability Act.
Section 5. Purposes. The General Assembly recognizes that persons who participate in equine activities may incur injuries as a result of the risks involved in those activities. The General Assembly also finds that the State and its citizens derive numerous economic and personal benefits from equine activities. Therefore, it is the intent of the General Assembly to encourage equine activities by delineating the responsibilities of those involved in equine activities.
Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act:
(a) “Engages in an equine activity” means riding, training, assisting in medical treatment of, driving, or being a passenger upon an equine, whether mounted or unmounted, or assisting a participant. The term “engages in an equine activity” does not include being a spectator at an equine activity, except in cases where the spectator places himself in an unauthorized area and in immediate proximity to the equine activity.
(b) “Equine” means a horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny.
(c) “Equine activity” means:
(1) Equine shows, fairs, competitions, performances, or parades that involve any or all breeds of equines and any of the equine disciplines, including, but not limited to, dressage, hunter and jumper horse shows, grand prix jumping, 3 day events, combined training, rodeos, driving, pulling, cutting, polo, steeplechasing, English and western performance riding, endurance trail riding and western games, and hunting.
(2) Equine training activities, teaching activities, or both.
(3) Boarding equines.
(4) Riding, inspecting, or evaluating an equine belonging to another, whether or not the owner has received some monetary consideration or other thing of value for the use of the equine or is permitting a prospective purchaser of the equine to ride, inspect, or evaluate the equine.
(5) Rides, trips, hunts, or other equine activities of any type however informal or impromptu that are sponsored by an equine activity sponsor.
(6) Placing or replacing horseshoes on an equine.
(d) “Equine activity sponsor” means an individual, group, club, partnership, or corporation, whether or not the sponsor is operating for profit or nonprofit, that sponsors, organizes, or provides the facilities for an equine activity, including, but not limited to, pony clubs, 4-H clubs, hunt clubs, riding clubs, school and college sponsored classes, programs and activities, therapeutic riding programs, and operators, instructors, and promoters of equine facilities, including, but not limited to, stables, clubhouses, pony ride strings, fairs, and arenas at which the activity is held.
(e) “Equine professional” means a person engaged for compensation (i) in instructing a participant or renting to a participant an equine for the purpose of riding, driving, or being a passenger upon the equine, or (ii) in renting equipment or tack to a participant.
(f) “Risks of engaging in equine activities” means those dangers of conditions that are an integral part of equine activities, including, but not limited to:
(1) The propensity of an equine to behave in ways that may result in injury, harm, or death to persons on or around them.
(2) The unpredictability of an equine’s reaction to sounds, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects, persons, other animals, or other things.
(3) Certain hazards such as surface and subsurface conditions.
(4) Collisions with other equines or objects.
(5) The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, such as failing to maintain control over the animal or not acting within his or her ability.
(g) “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.
Section 15. Participant’s responsibility. It is recognized that equine activities are hazardous to participants, regardless of all feasible safety measures that can be taken.
Each participant who engages in an equine activity expressly assumes the risk of and legal responsibility for injury, loss, or damage to the participant or the participant’s property that results from participating in an equine activity, except in specific situations as set forth in Section 20, when the equine activity sponsor or equine professional may be held responsible. Each participant shall have sole individual responsibility for knowing the range of his or her own ability to manage, care for, and control a particular horse or perform a particular equine activity, and it shall be the duty of each participant to act within the limits of the participant’s own ability, to maintain reasonable control of the particular horse or horses at all times while participating in an equine activity, to heed all posted warnings, to perform equine activities only in an area or in facilities designated by the horseman, and to refrain from acting in a manner that may cause or contribute to the injury of anyone.
Each participant, or parent or guardian of a minor participant, may execute a release assuming responsibility for the risks of engaging in equine activities. The release shall give notice to the participant, or parent or guardian, of the risks of engaging in equine activities, including (i) the propensity of an equine to behave in dangerous ways that may result in injury to the participant, (ii) the inability to predict an equine’s reaction to sound, movements, objects, persons, or animals, and (iii) the hazards of surface or subsurface conditions. A release shall remain valid until expressly revoked by the participant or, if a minor, the parent or guardian.
Section 20. Exceptions.
(a) This Act shall not apply to the horse racing industry as regulated in the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975.
(b) Except as provided in Section 15, nothing in this Act shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person if the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or person:
(1) Provided the equipment or tack, and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and the equipment or tack was faulty to the extent that it caused the injury.
(2) Provided the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity and determine the ability of the participant to manage safely the particular equine based on the participant’s representations of his or her ability.
(3) Owns, leases, rents, or otherwise is in lawful possession and control of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a dangerous latent condition that was known to the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or person and for which warning signs were not conspicuously posted.
(4) Commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, and that act or omission caused the injury.
(5) Intentionally injures the participant.
(c) Nothing in this Act shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor or an equine professional:
(1) Under liability provisions as set forth in the products liability laws.
(2) Under liability provisions in the Fence Act.
Section 25. Warning.
(a) Every equine professional shall post and maintain signs that contain the warning notice specified in subsection (b) of this Section. Signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location on or near stables, corrals, or arenas where the equine professional conducts equine activities if the stables, corrals, or arenas are owned, managed, or controlled by the equine professional. The warning notice specified in subsection (b) shall appear on the sign in black letters, with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in height. Every written contract entered into by an equine professional for the providing of professional services, instruction, or the rental of equipment or tack or an equine to a participant, whether or not the contract involves equine activities on or off the location or site of the equine professional’s business, shall contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in subsection (b).
(b) The signs and contracts described in subsection (a) shall contain the following warning notice: