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
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
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
"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
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 or incident
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
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.
Approved January 8, 1998.
Effective January 8, 1998.