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NEW JERSEY SESSION LAWS
SENATE No. 282
AN ACT concerning the responsibilities and liabilities of
individuals involved in equestrian activities and supplementing
Title 5 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State
of New Jersey:
NJ ST 5:15-1
The Legislature finds and declares that equine animal activities
are practiced by a large number of citizens of this State;
that equine animal activities attract large numbers of nonresidents
to the State; that those activities significantly contribute
to the economy of this State; and that horse farms are a major
land use which preserves open space.
The Legislature further finds and declares that equine animal
activities involve risks that are essentially impractical
or impossible for the operator to eliminate; and that those
risks must be borne by those who engage in those activities.
The Legislature therefore determines that the allocation of
the risks and costs of equine animal activities is an important
matter of public policy and it is appropriate to state in
law those risks that the participant voluntarily assumes for
which there can be no recovery.
NJ ST 5:15-2
As used in this act:
"Equestrian area" means all of the real and personal
property under the control of the operator or on the premises
of the operator which are being occupied, by license, lease,
fee simple or otherwise, including but not limited to designated
trail areas, designated easements or rights-of-way for access
to trails, and other areas utilized for equine animal activities.
"Equine animal" means a horse, pony, mule or donkey.
"Equine animal activity" means any activity that
involves the use of an equine animal and shall include selling
equipment and tack; transportation, including the loading
and off-loading for travel to or from a horse show or trail
system; inspecting, or evaluating an equine animal belonging
to another person whether or not the person has received compensation;
placing or replacing shoes on an animal equine; and veterinary
treatment on an equine animal.
"Inherent risk or risks of an equine animal activity"
means those dangers which are an integral part of equine animal
activity, which shall include but need not be limited to:
a. The propensity of an equine animal to behave in ways that
result in injury, harm, or death to nearby persons;
b. The unpredictability of an equine animal's reaction to
such phenomena as sounds, sudden movement and unfamiliar objects,
persons or other animals;
c. Certain natural hazards, such as surface or subsurface
d. Collisions with other equine animals or with objects; and
e. The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner
that may contribute to injury to the participant or others,
including but not limited to failing to maintain control over
the equine animal or not acting within the participant's ability.
"Operator" means a person or entity who owns, manages,
controls or directs the operation of an area where individuals
engage in equine animal activities whether or not compensation
is paid. "Operator" shall also include an agency
of this State, political subdivisions thereof or instrumentality
of said entities, or any individual or entity acting on behalf
of an operator for all or part of such activities.
"Participant" means any person, whether an amateur
or professional, engaging in an equine animal activity, whether
or not a fee is paid to engage in the equine animal activity
or, if a minor, the natural guardian, or trainer of that person
standing in loco parentis, and shall include anyone accompanying
the participant, or any person coming onto the property of
the provider of equine animal activities or equestrian area
whether or not an invitee or person pays consideration.
"Spectator" means a person who is present in an
equestrian area for the purpose of observing animal equine
activities whether or not an invitee.
NJ ST 5:15-3
A participant and spectator are deemed to assume the inherent
risks of equine animal activities created by equine animals,
weather conditions, conditions of trails, riding rings, training
tracks, equestrians, and all other inherent conditions. Each
participant is assumed to know the range of his ability and
it shall be the duty of each participant to conduct himself
within the limits of such ability to maintain control of his
equine animal and to refrain from acting in a manner which
may cause or contribute to the injury of himself or others,
loss or damage to person or property, or death which results
from participation in an equine animal activity.
NJ ST 5:15-4
A participant or a spectator shall not engage in, attempt
to engage in, or interfere with, an equine animal activity
if he is knowingly under the influence of any alcoholic beverage
as defined in R.S.33:1-1 or under the influence of any prescription,
legend drug or controlled dangerous substance as is defined
in P.L.1970, c. 226 (C.24:21-1 et seq.), or any other substance
that affects the individual's ability to safely engage in
the equine animal activity and abide by the posted and stated
instructions. The operator may prevent a participant or a
spectator who is perceptibly or apparently under the influence
of drugs or alcohol, from engaging in, or interfering with,
an equine animal activity or being in an equestrian area.
An operator who prevents a participant or a spectator from
engaging in, or interfering with, an equine animal activity,
or being in an equestrian area in accordance with this section
shall not be criminally or civilly liable in any manner or
to any extent whatsoever if the operator has a reasonable
basis for believing that the participant or spectator is under
the influence of drugs or alcohol.
NJ ST 5:15-5
The assumption of risk set forth in section 3 of this act
shall be a complete bar of suit and shall serve as a complete
defense to a suit against an operator by a participant for
injuries resulting from the assumed risks, notwithstanding
the provisions of P.L.1973, c. 146 (C.2A:15-5.1 et seq.) relating
to comparative negligence. Failure of a participant to conduct
himself within the limits of his abilities as provided in
section 3 of this act shall bar suit against an operator to
compensate for injuries resulting from equine animal activities,
where such failure is found to be a contributory factor in
the resulting injury.
NJ ST 5:15-6
a. As a precondition to bringing any suit in connection with
a participant injury against an operator, a participant shall
submit a written report to the operator setting forth all
details of any accident or incident as soon as possible, but
in no event longer than 180 days from the time of the accident
or incident giving rise to the suit.
b. The report shall include at least the following: The participant's
name and address, a brief description of the accident or incident,
the location of the accident or incident, the alleged cause
of the accident or incident, the names of any other persons
involved in the accident or incident and witnesses, if any.
If it is not practicable to submit the report within 180 days
because of severe physical disability resulting from a participant
accident or incident, the report shall be submitted as soon
as practicable. This section is not applicable with respect
to an equestrian area unless the operator conspicuously posts
notice to participants of the requirements of the section.
c. A participant who fails to submit the report within 180
days from the time of the accident or incident may be permitted
to submit the report at any time within one year after the
accident or incident, if in the discretion of a judge of the
Superior Court the operator is not substantially prejudiced
thereby. Application to the court for permission to submit
a late report shall be made upon motion based on affidavits
showing sufficient reasons for the participant's failure to
give the report within 180 days from the time of the accident
NJ ST 5:15-7
Notwithstanding any provision of this act, or any other law
to the contrary, an action for injury or death against an
operator, an equestrian area or its employees or owner, whether
based upon tort or breach of contract or otherwise arising
out of equine animal activities, shall be commenced no later
than two years after the occurrence of the incident or earliest
of incidents giving rise to the cause of action.
NJ ST 5:15-8
If a participant accident or incident, or an action based
upon an equine animal activity or incident, involves a minor,
the time limits set forth in sections 6 and 7 of this act
shall not begin to run against the minor until the minor reaches
the age of majority, unless there was present to approve conditions
and riding ability a person standing in loco parentis, who
made these decisions for the minor in activities including
but not limited to horse shows, trying a horse for sale, riding
lessons, trail rides, and demonstrations .
NJ ST 5:15-9
Notwithstanding any provisions of sections 3 and 4 of this
act to the contrary, the following actions or lack thereof
on the part of operators shall be exceptions to the limitation
on liability for operators:
a. Knowingly providing equipment or tack that is faulty to
the extent that it causes or contributes to injury.
b. Failure to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine
the participant's ability to safely manage the particular
equine animal, based on the participant's representation of
his ability, or the representation of the guardian, or trainer
of that person standing in loco parentis, if a minor.
c. A case in which the participant is injured or killed by
a known dangerous latent condition on property owned or controlled
by the equine animal activity operator and for which warning
signs have not been posted.
d. An act or omission on the part of the operator that constitutes
negligent disregard for the participant's safety, which act
or omission causes the injury, and
e. Intentional injuries to the participant caused by the operator.
NJ ST 5:15-10
All operators shall post and maintain signs on all lands owned
or leased thereby and used for equine activities, which signs
shall be posted in a manner that makes them visible to all
participants and which shall contain the following notice
in large capitalized print:
"WARNING: UNDER NEW JERSEY LAW, AN EQUESTRIAN AREA OPERATOR
IS NOT LIABLE FOR AN INJURY TO OR THE DEATH OF A PARTICIPANT
IN EQUINE ANIMAL ACTIVITIES RESULTING FROM THE INHERENT RISKS
OF EQUINE ANIMAL ACTIVITIES, PURSUANT TO P.L., CHAPTER 287"
Individuals or entities providing equine animal activities
on behalf of an operator, and not the operator, shall be required
to post and maintain signs required by this section.
NJ ST 5:15-11
The provisions of this act are cumulative with the defenses
available to a public entity or public employee under the
"New Jersey Tort Claims Act", N.J.S.59:1-1 et seq.
NJ ST 5:15-12
This act shall not apply to the horse racing industry.
NJ ST 5:15-13
This act shall take effect immediately.
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