Friday, January 23, 2015

On today's episode of "Dumb Lawsuits"

A woman who rear-ended a car after it hit a horse while leaving the fair this summer is suing fair organizers and the horse's owner for $50,000.

The horse got spooked during the fair's fireworks and ran in front of an SUV, sending it through the windshield and killing it.

The woman's injuries from the accident include "fractures to her ribs and right foot, lung trauma, nerve damage and bruising."

This is unfortunate for everyone--people got hurt and an animal was killed. But to sue, especially for the reasons cited, is ridiculous.
The fair association failed to warn horse owners of the need to restrain their animals during the discharge of fireworks, the lawsuit contends. It lacked fencing to confine the animals to the fairgrounds, had no safe area to confine horses and failed to supervise horse owners. 
Wilson, whose horse died when it was thrown into the SUV's windshield, should have known “that fireworks were scheduled to be set off at the fairgrounds at the time of the incident,” according to the lawsuit. 
The Scottdale man was negligent for failing to confine the animal to a trailer or other secure area, and for allowing it to leave the fairgrounds and run onto the highway, Balzarini contends.
First of all, let's address the injuries. Obviously, I wasn't there and I can't say anything for sure, but I do find it interesting that it's at least implied she sustained worse injuries than the family who had a horse go through their windshield--and they didn't sue. I just wonder how fast one has to be driving to get such injuries from rear-ending an SUV, although the sudden stop due to a horse collision could admittedly be a factor.

But speaking of rear-ending, as far as insurance companies are concerned, that's always the fault of the driver, under the reasoning that they should be under control of their vehicle--although I'm sure being behind an SUV that just hit a horse makes that difficult.

Now, the fair failing to warn owners makes some sense, although I'm not sure anyone expected this kind of reaction from an animal or that it's grounds for a lawsuit. The fencing and confinement area? I'm not so sure. Aside from the parking lot, the grounds are pretty enclosed, right?

That "failed to supervise horse owners" bit is where it starts to really lose me. Because, you know, horse owners totally need babysat by fair organizers. I mean, it's not like they're, uh, horse owners who presumably know how to care for their animal or anything. This is just treating horse owners like irresponsible children who can't be trusted.

Which I guess makes sense considering the rest of the lawsuit, which says the owner should've known the fireworks were scheduled. I'm not so sure someone needs to keep track of fair events they're not involved in, and I highly doubt the man knew this would happen, because otherwise...he would've had the horse confined and gotten the hell out of there, like the lawsuit says. Man, it's like they went through a list of hypotheticals and picked out anything they could call a misstep and decided to blame both parties for basically the same things.

I mean, this guy obviously totally should've known better, right? First he fails to check the schedule, then he fails to confine his horse! Because, you know, horses appearing at a county fair are always confined at all times. They're never let out for events or anything. Nope.

But my favorite part? That he "allow[ed] it to leave the fairgrounds and run onto the highway." Because when you've got a scared horse running erratically away from the fair and toward a road, you're absolutely in control in that moment and are allowing the horse to behave that way.

Look, I'm no horse expert. I haven't been on or near a horse, for the most part, since, like, pony rides at a party when I was little or something. But I've been around--and chased down--enough animals to know that at a certain point, it's out of your hands and the best you can do is pray and catch up. And this situation was probably out of the owner's hands the second that horse got scared and bolted, so to insinuate the actions of his horse--an animal--are somehow his fault because he "allowed it" to do something is absurd. It's right up there with people who mess with wild animals then get bit--the animals are doing what they do.

It's unfortunate that this woman got hurt, and medical bills are expensive and insurance companies blow. But these things are called "accidents" for a reason. Let's not go trying to lay the blame everywhere we possibly can find--er, create it.

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