Moving to the country? Consider Liability Issues

Country Living Liability - Two Appaloosas fighting in Van Alstyne, TX. Image By Keith Laursen - RealtorMoving from McKinney to Van Alstyne or another rural town and getting horses, cows, chickens and other animals?  Have you considered what may happen when your horse Deadhead throws a guest or Toro the Bull hops the fence and is hit by a minivan?

Most people only think about how happy their children will be with a horse of their own, raising a few cows or having farm fresh eggs.  They can’t wait for their city friends to visit so they can show them what it is like living in Green Acres, put them on Deadhead or show off their new longhorn bull.

There can be serious liability issues with farm animals that you should discuss with your insurance agent. Fortunately, there are some protections that we have living in the great state of Texas.

 

 

Equines, Cows and Assorted Other Creatures

In most cases, you should have some decent protection if someone is injured on Deadhead as long as you are not negligent in your advise, surroundings and equipment.  To have the maximum protection you should post a sign like this one:

WARNING:  UNDER TEXAS LAW (CHAPTER 87, CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE) A FARM ANIMAL PROFESSIONAL IS NOT LIABLE FOR AN INJURY TO OR THE DEATH OF A PARTICIPANT IN THE FARM ANIMAL ACTIVITIES RESULTING FROM THE INHERENT RISKS OF FARM ANIMAL ACTIVITIES.

For more information, check out a great blog article written by Tiffany Dowell discussing the Texas Farm Animal Liability Act that will give you more information.  She covers many questions related to rural living from a legal outlook in her Texas Agriculture Law Blog.  Another great resource is the Animal Law section of The Texas State Law Library.

 

Farm To Market Roads

You may have noticed FM (Farm To Market) roads.  You should be aware that you will come across slow moving vehicles like tractors, hay wagons, animals and country folk just moseying along. See a little tongue in cheek post I wrote about Farm To Market roads.

If your livestock gets out and is hit by a car, you may have some protection if your county has not instituted a stock law.  In a nutshell, most of rural Texas is considered open range, allowing cattle and other farm animals to be driven, grazed or moved along the roadside.  It is not uncommon for cows to break through fences, horses to be on the road (with or with out riders) or a big John Deere Tractor lumbering along.

 

Summary

Moving to a rural area an enjoying country life is great. We all want to show others how we live and let them participate in our rural farm activities.  There are some protections and responsibilities to be aware of to avoid excess liability.  You should always consult an attorney for legal advice and your insurance agent to learn how you will or not be covered.  Besides liability for others, you should also be concerned and informed about the laws if you should become injured while participating in traditional farm and ranch activities.  While it may be fun to go horseback riding, showing a cow, driving or attending an event like a rodeo in the country, be aware that you shoulder much of the risk and may have limited recourse in the event of an injury.

 

 

About Keith Laursen

I am a Fathom Realty Realtor specializing in town and country properties in the cities of Van Alstyne, Anna, Melissa, Howe, Gunter, Tom Bean, Whitewright, McKinney and Plano, TX.

My trusty horse and I will help you "spot" the best in real estate. Remember, it can't sell if it's not spotted!
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