University of Vermont AAHS

THE HELMET QUESTION

by
Jan Dawson
President, AAHS

[reproduced from Caution:Horses, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 2000]

After the near-fatal or fatal accident involving a head injury, the question that the commercial provider of equine services will be asked, under oath, in deposition or on the witness stand will be the following:

"Were you aware that at the time of this accident there existed an item of readily available, easy-to-fit safety equipment that would have lessened or perhaps even prevented this injury?"

When one answers "yes" to that question the lawsuit is fundamentally over because the next question is going to be, "Why was this piece of equipment not used or unavailable?"

That is the kind of case that lawyers pray for. It sends the kids to college and the family to the Bahamas for Christmas.

What about waivers? Waivers work best if the person is waiving something that exists. If there are no well-fitting helmets available in assorted sized it is difficult to maintain that the waiver had substance. It is hard to waive the use of something that isn’t available.

There is a similar problem with the helmet waiver buried in the primary release form. That has the function of making the customer waive the helmet if he wants to ride.

It is so much easier to put the helmet on the wranglers and guests and just go for a nice safe ride.


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