It’s a postcard-perfect picture: You’re driving down a back road in one of the rural Maryland counties, and you pass a farm with a red barn, corral, and horses lazily grazing in a field. It’s a relaxing sight that harkens back to simpler times.
However the spread of suburbia into rural Maryland counties — and the traffic that goes along with it — means increased risk of cars and trucks encountering large animals in the roadways. That picturesque Maryland scene can turn to horror in a heartbeat if a horse, cow, or other large animal gets loose and finds itself in the road — with an unsuspecting driver coming around the bend. Car accidents with large animals often end badly.
In an article in Stable Management magazine (see link below), an attorney who works with the equine industry goes into detail regarding various scenarios where horse and livestock owners may be held liable if an automobile accident with a large animal occurs. Laws vary from state to state, but in general…
- Owners are responsible for keeping their horses and livestock fenced in (except in states where “open range” laws apply — Maryland is not one of those states).
- Horse and other livestock owners are required to keep their fences and gates in good repair.
- Horse owners should know their animals’ behavior, e.g., a horse that’s known for getting away and is not properly contained may get its owner sued if a car and horse accident occurs.
Maryland Car Accidents with Farm Animals and Liability Laws
The author of the stable management article mentions “strict liability laws” that are present in a few states; Maryland IS one of those states. In Maryland, an animal owner can be sued and may be held strictly liable for injuries caused by his animal if the owner knew (or should have known) that the animal was likely to commit the particular act which caused harm. In other words, if you own a large animal and it gets loose, you may be held strictly liable if someone is hurt as a result.
Maryland car and animal accident attorneys are familiar with these state liability laws. It’s best to consult with an injury lawyer experienced in this area, if you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance to have suffered injury or death due to an auto crash involving a horse or farm animal in the road in Maryland.
Loose Horse Liability
Stable Management June 2008