Hayride Safety

People riding a horse carriage

Photo courtesy of dbnunley (CC Attribution)

As the weather changes and we start to put on our jeans and hoodies, we all look forward to a cool autumn season of pumpkin picking, hot apple cider, and of course, hayrides. While taking a seat on a nice bale of hay for an enjoyable ride through a pumpkin patch is fun for everyone, it certainly comes with some dangers that are important to keep front of mind, whether you’re a rider or the driver.

Read on to make sure you and yours are safe this hayride season, wherever your tractor takes you.

Hayride Regulations

State laws and municipal laws might govern a hayride depending on your location, but the federal government has no regulations around these attractions. Most pumpkin patches and apple orchards want to provide a safe and friendly experience for everyone, but there’s no guarantee that they’re paying close attention to every aspect of their business, especially the hayrides.

What Can Go Wrong?

Hayrides seem safe enough, but sometimes equipment malfunctions and can cause a crash. In some cases, the wagon may not be properly attached to the tractor, and could break free. There could also be problems with the tractor itself, which can have a direct influence on the safety of those on the trailer. If the tractor comes to a quick stop, it can throw riders off of the trailer, causing injuries. Other factors that can cause a hayride host to be liable for an accident or injury can include:

  • Operator behavior
  • Mechanical failure
  • Improper repairs
  • Loose cables
  • Uninspected damage/ equipment
  • Poor lighting
  • Lack of safety harnesses
  • Sharp, protruding trailer or tractor parts
  • Electrical shorts/ failures
  • Improper assembly
  • Part corrosion
  • Rusted belts

Who Is Responsible?

When it comes to hayrides, liability usually involves three types of law: negligence, product liability law, and premise liability law. In many cases, those operating a hayride aren’t properly qualified to do so. Many local pumpkin patches cut corners on safety by hiring untrained workers to help riders on and off the hayride. Because hayride safety laws are left to local jurisdiction, there is often not much elaboration on the mandatory requirements for a hayride to be considered safe.

Personal injuries sustained from a hayride can be devastating. If you’ve been injured and believe you have a case, give us a call today. Christie Farrell Lee & Bell will be happy to speak with you and help you under­stand your legal options