2020 Georgia Code
Title 4 - Animals
Chapter 12 - Injuries From Equine, Livestock, or Llama Activities
§ 4-12-3. Immunity From Liability for Injury or Death; Exceptions

Universal Citation: GA Code § 4-12-3 (2020)
  1. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, a livestock activity sponsor, a livestock professional, an owner of a livestock facility, a llama activity sponsor, a llama professional, or any other person, which shall include a corporation or partnership, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of animal activities and, except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, no participant or participant's representative shall make any claim against, maintain an action against, or recover from an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, a livestock activity sponsor, a livestock professional, an owner of a livestock facility, a llama activity sponsor, a llama professional, or any other person for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of animal activities during the course of any equine activity, livestock activity, or llama activity.
  2. Nothing in subsection (a) of this Code section shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, a livestock activity sponsor, a livestock professional, an owner of a livestock facility, a llama activity sponsor, a llama professional, or any other person if the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, owner of the livestock facility, llama activity sponsor, llama professional, or person:
      1. Provided equipment or tack for the activity, and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and such equipment or tack was faulty to the extent that it caused the injury;
      2. Provided the animal and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the activity and to safely manage the particular animal based on the participant's representations of his or her ability; or
      3. With respect to livestock activities, provided the livestock and failed to make reasonable efforts to determine the propensity of the particular livestock to cause harm or failed to make reasonable efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the activity based on the participant's representations of his or her ability and based on propensity of the particular livestock to cause harm;
    1. 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 which was known or should have been known to the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, owner of a livestock facility, llama activity sponsor, llama professional, or person and for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted;
    2. 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; or
    3. Intentionally injures the participant.
  3. Nothing in subsection (a) of this Code section shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, equine professional, a livestock activity sponsor, a livestock professional, an owner of a livestock facility, llama activity sponsor, or llama professional under liability provisions as set forth in the products liability laws.
  4. Nothing in this Code section nor any provision of the laws of this state recognizing equine activity, livestock activity, or llama activity as inherently dangerous shall serve as a basis for liability on the part of any person who encourages, promotes, or instructs others in equine activities, livestock activities, or llama activities.

(Code 1981, §4-12-3, enacted by Ga. L. 1991, p. 680, § 1; Ga. L. 1995, p. 335, § 3; Ga. L. 2017, p. 134, § 1/HB 50; Ga. L. 2018, p. 1112, § 4/SB 365.)

The 2017 amendment, effective July 1, 2017, inserted "a livestock activity sponsor, a livestock professional, an owner of a livestock facility," near the beginning and end of subsection (a), and near the beginning of subsections (b) and (c); in subsection (a), substituted "animal activities" for "equine activities or from the inherent risks of llama activities" near the middle, and substituted "animal activities during the course of any equine activity, livestock activity, or llama activity" for "equine activities or resulting from any of the inherent risks of llama activities" at the end; inserted "livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, owner of the livestock facility," near the end of subsection (b) and paragraph (b)(2); in subparagraph (b)(1)(A), substituted "equipment or tack for the activity" for "the equipment or tack" near the beginning, substituted "caused" for "did cause" near the end, and substituted a semicolon for a period at the end; in subparagraph (b)(1)(B), deleted "equine activity or llama" following "engage safely in the" in the middle, and added "or" at the end; added subparagraph (b)(1)(C); and added subsection (d). See Editor's notes for applicability.

The 2018 amendment, effective May 8, 2018, part of an Act to revise, modernize, and correct the Code, revised capitalization in subsection (d).

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2017, p. 134, § 2/HB 50, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that the amendment of this Code section by that Act shall not apply to any cause of action arising prior to July 1, 2017.

Law reviews.

- For annual survey of tort law, see 57 Mercer L. Rev. 363 (2005).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Exception to immunity pertaining to possession and control of the land and facilities applies only to conditions for which warning signs have not been posted. Muller v. English, 221 Ga. App. 672, 472 S.E.2d 448 (1996).

No defective construction.

- Rider's injuries, sustained when a portion of a hitching rail to which a horse was tied became detached and fell on the rider after the horse became spooked, resulted from the "inherent risks of equine activities," as provided in O.C.G.A. § 4-12-2(7) and, thus, were in the scope of the Injuries from Equine or Llama Activities Act. While the rider's mother attempted to show that the hitching rail was defectively constructed, there was insufficient evidence to show that the hitching rail was defectively constructed based on industry practices. Mays v. Valley View Ranch, Inc., 317 Ga. App. 143, 730 S.E.2d 592 (2012), cert. denied, No. S12C1980, 2012 Ga. LEXIS 980 (Ga. 2012).

Exception to immunity pertaining to willful or wanton disregard for safety did not apply when plaintiff was kicked by the sponsor's horse during a fox hunt since it was shown that the horse was not so unusually prone to kick that continuing to ride the horse was evidence of willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Muller v. English, 221 Ga. App. 672, 472 S.E.2d 448 (1996).

Failure to adhere to a traditional fox hunting custom such as tying a red ribbon in the tail of an inexperienced or irritable horse did not rise to the level of willful or wanton disregard. Muller v. English, 221 Ga. App. 672, 472 S.E.2d 448 (1996).

Exception to immunity for cases in which the sponsor provided the animal did not apply when the plaintiff was riding the plaintiff's own mount. Muller v. English, 221 Ga. App. 672, 472 S.E.2d 448 (1996).

Waiver of review of immunity claim.

- In a rider's personal injury action against the owners of a horse, the owners waived review of the owner's claim that O.C.G.A. C. 12, T. 4 provided the owners' immunity from suit as a matter of law, when, in the owners' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the owners' acquiesced in a trial court ruling that the question of whether warning signs were posted, an element of a claim of immunity, was for the jury. Young v. Brandt, 225 Ga. App. 889, 485 S.E.2d 519 (1997).

Immunity as "any other person."

- In an action arising from an incident in which a horse reared and fell back on the plaintiff after plaintiff mounted the horse, the defendants were entitled to immunity as "any other person" where the plaintiff neither alleged nor tendered evidence showing the defendants, as equine activity sponsors or as equine professionals, had to have warning signs to trigger immunity. Wiederkehr v. Brent, 248 Ga. App. 645, 548 S.E.2d 402 (2001).

Horse owner entitled to immunity.

- In a suit brought by a rider who was seriously injured after falling from a horse, the trial court properly granted the owner summary judgment because the owner was entitled to civil immunity under the Equine Activities Act, O.C.G.A. § 4-12-1 et seq., since none of the exceptions to immunity outlined in the statute applied and the owner's failure to retighten the girth did not constitute faulty tack under the statute. Holcomb v. Long, 329 Ga. App. 515, 765 S.E.2d 687 (2014).

In a case involving immunity provided by Georgia's Injuries From Equine or Llama Activities Act, O.C.G.A. § 4-12-1 et seq., the trial court properly granted summary judgment to the defendant, the individual who provided the horses, because the plaintiff camp counselor's injuries resulted from the inherent risks of equine activities; the defendant provided the horse to the camp, not the plaintiff, and the supervisor of the camp's equestrian program, not the defendant, assigned the plaintiff to ride the particular horse on the day the plaintiff was injured; and the defendant did not willfully or wantonly disregard the plaintiff's safety as there was no evidence of previous issues or incidents with the horse, and the plaintiff had undisputed riding experience. Gadd v. Warwick, 339 Ga. App. 802, 792 S.E.2d 773 (2016).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Validity, construction, and application of statutory exemptions from liability for persons injured by equine or equestrian activities, 79 A.L.R.6th 487.

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