Two Alaska statutes are provided here that relate to the limitation of liability for equine activities. The first is the equine activity liability statute, which states that livestock are unpredictable and inherently dangerous and all persons who knowingly place themselves in proximity to livestock for any reason involving an activity that includes livestock are considered a participant in livestock activity and assume the risk. Exclusions include gross negligence of the equine sponsor, knowledge of faulty tack or equipment, and failure to properly ascertain the level of competence by the participant. The second statute reiterates that a person who participates in a sports or recreational activity assumes the inherent risks in that sports or recreational activity, including horseback riding.
Sec. 09.65.145 Liability for injuries or death resulting from livestock activities.
(a) Livestock are unpredictable and inherently dangerous. All persons who knowingly place themselves in proximity to livestock for any reason involving an activity that includes livestock subject themselves to serious injury or death and are considered a participant in livestock activity and assume the risk of injury or death caused by the livestock.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person, and the personal representative of a person, who suffers an injury or death resulting from a livestock activity may not recover civil damages for the injury or death from a livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant, or the agents or employees of a livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant.
(c) This section does not affect a civil action for damages resulting from
(1) gross negligence or reckless or intentional misconduct of the livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant, or agents or employees of the livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant;
(2) equipment, tack, or a product provided by the livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant that the livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant knows is faulty or defective;
(3) the failure of the livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant who provided the livestock to make a reasonable and prudent effort to determine the ability of the participant to safely manage the livestock activity, after taking into account the participant's representation of ability; a participant in a livestock show, livestock sale, or rodeo is presumed to be competent to handle livestock if an entry form is required for the activity and is signed or submitted by the participant.
(d) This section does not nullify coverage or an award for an injury to or death of an employee of a livestock activity sponsor or livestock professional if the employee suffers an injury or death resulting from a livestock activity and the injury or death is covered by or subject to workers' compensation provisions under AS 23.30.
(e) This section does not prevent or limit the liability of a livestock activity sponsor, livestock professional, or livestock activity participant, or their agents or employees under a liability provision as provided in a law relating to product liability.
(f) A livestock activity sponsor may not be held vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of a livestock activity participant or a livestock professional.
(g) A person may agree, in writing, to waive the entire right to recover damages resulting from an inherent risk of a livestock activity.
(h) This section does not affect the immunity of an owner of unimproved land under AS 09.65.200.
(i) In this section,
(1) "inherent risk of a livestock activity" means those dangers or conditions that are an integral part of a livestock activity, including
(A) the propensity of livestock to behave in ways that may result in injury to a person on or around livestock;
(B) the unpredictability of livestock's reaction to sound, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects or persons, or other animals;
(C) hazards or conditions unknown to a livestock activity sponsor;
(D) collisions with other livestock or objects;
(E) the potential of tack to become dislodged or move in ways that may result in injury to a person on or around a livestock activity; and
(F) the potential of a person to negligently engage in conduct that contributes to an injury or death during a livestock activity;
(2) "livestock" includes a domestic cow, domestic bison, hog, sheep, goat, domestic musk-ox, yak, pig, legally possessed caribou, reindeer, domestic elk, rabbit, hamster, guinea pig, turkey, chicken, pheasant, peafowl, pigeon, horse, mule, donkey, camel, llama, alpaca, or a waterfowl that does not require a federal permit; "livestock" does not mean a dog or cat;
(3) "livestock activity" includes
(A) livestock shows, fairs, sales, competitions, or performances that involve any or all breeds of livestock and any of the livestock disciplines, including rodeos, auctions, driving, pulling, judging, cutting, therapeutic riding, and showing;
(B) livestock training or teaching activities or both training and teaching activities;
(C) boarding or pasturing livestock;
(D) testing, inspecting or evaluating livestock belonging to another person, whether or not the owner has received monetary consideration or other thing of value for the use of the livestock or is permitting a prospective purchaser of the livestock to inspect or evaluate the livestock;
(E) driving, riding, grooming, traveling, or other livestock activities of any type, however informal or impromptu, that are sponsored by a livestock activity sponsor;
(F) placing or replacing horseshoes on an equine, or otherwise preparing livestock for show; and
(G) assisting in providing medical treatment to livestock;
(4) "livestock activity sponsor" means an individual, group, club, partnership, limited liability company, nonprofit corporation, or corporation operating for profit that sponsors, organizes, or provides the livestock, equipment, tack, facilities, or instruction for a livestock activity;
(5) "livestock professional" means a person who receives compensation for instructing a participant, renting livestock to a participant for the purpose of engaging in livestock activity, or renting equipment or tack to a participant;
(6) "participant" means a person, whether amateur or professional, who engages in a livestock activity or who is near or close to livestock, whether or not a fee is paid to participate in the livestock activity.
SLA 2003, ch. 122, § 3.
Sec. 09.65.290 Civil liability for sports or recreational activities.
(a) A person who participates in a sports or recreational activity assumes the inherent risks in that sports or recreational activity and is legally responsible for all injuries or death to the person or other persons and for all damage to property that results from the inherent risks in that sports or recreational activity.
(b) This section does not require a provider to eliminate, alter, or control the inherent risks within the particular sports or recreational activity that is provided.
(c) This section does not apply to a civil action based on the
(1) negligence of a provider if the negligence was the proximate cause of the injury, death, or damage; or
(2) design or manufacture of sports or recreational equipment or products or safety equipment used incidental to or required by a sports or recreational activity.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to conflict with or render as ineffectual a liability release agreement between a person who participates in a sports or recreational activity and a provider.
(e) In this section,
(1) “farm touring” means briefly visiting a farm to observe or experience aspects of raising, growing, producing, cultivating, harvesting, or processing an agricultural product as a tourist, without receiving pay;
(2) “inherent risks” means those dangers or conditions that are characteristic of, intrinsic to, or an integral part of a sports or recreational activity;
(3) “provider” means a person or a federal, state, or municipal agency that promotes, offers, or conducts a sports or recreational activity, whether for pay or otherwise;
(4) “sports or recreational activity”
(A) means a commonly understood sporting activity, whether undertaken with or without permission, including baseball, softball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey, bungee jumping, parasailing, bicycling, hiking, swimming, skateboarding, horseback riding and other equine activity, farm touring, dude ranching, mountain climbing, river floating, whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, hunting, fishing, backcountry trips, mushing, backcountry or helicopter-assisted skiing, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, telemarking, snow sliding, snowmobiling, and off-road and all-terrain vehicle use;
(B) does not include
(i) boxing contests, sparring or wrestling matches, or exhibitions that are subject to the requirements of AS 05.10;
(ii) activities involving the use of devices that are subject to the requirements of AS 05.20; or
(iii) skiing or sliding activities at a ski area that are subject to the requirements of AS 05.45.
SLA 2003, ch. 121, § 3. Amended by SLA 2018, ch. 103, §§ 2, 3, eff. Jan. 1, 2019.