Is a vet liable for an injury that happened in the clinic?

Question: I took my mare to the vet clinic for artificial insemination. In the stable my horse got clamped when lying down and due to this injured her leg. Who is liable in this case and will take over the costs?

Answer Schelstraete Lawyers:

Before taking a horse to a vet clinic, a treatment contract is signed with the clinic. Those contracts often refer to the general terms and conditions that apply to the signed treatment contract. These general conditions, often named small print, in some cases exclude the liability of the vet clinic and/or the vet.

The content of the treatment contract as well as possibly the general conditions in the special case are unknown, therefore we cannot refer to this.

However one can ask, if it is generally possible to let the clinic take over costs that were induced by the horse itself. In this case the horse got clamped during lying down. This is something that can easily happen at home in the stable too. The fact that from this a serious leg injury resulted does not change anything about this.
In this situation we can therefore give a short reply. The vet clinic can in principle not successfully be made liable by the owner of the mare. There is no sign that the clinic is to be blamed and/or that the clinic acted careless and therefore caused the injury. Possibly a different conclusion could be drawn if the stable was unsafe, putting the horses at an increased risk for clamping.

We have to come to the conclusion that the owner herself is responsible for the leg injury and has to take over the resulting costs in this case.

This question was answered by Mr. Luc Schelstraete and Ms. Nikki Hamers from European Equine Lawyers. For further information please mail to or give us a call via  +31 13 511 44 20.

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