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Riding Accidents

If someone is injured in a riding accident and someone else is to blame, they may be able to make a personal injury claim against whoever is at fault. This could mean a substantial compensation payout for the harm suffered.

Personal injury is the branch of law which deals with compensating people who have been physically, emotionally or mentally injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness or breach of contractual or statutory obligations.

If you have been injured in a riding accident then you may be able to make a claim for personal injury compensation if you can show that the accident was a result of negligence on the part of the horse owner or the stable operator. Even if the accident could not have been prevented, you will still have a claim if it can be shown that the injury which you suffered could have been reduced if the horse owner or stable operator had taken reasonable precautions.

Many people who attend riding stables will have no prior experience with horses, and will be unaware of the limits of their own skill and competence. The operator of the riding stable should take this into consideration and should not allow inexperienced riders to be paired with wilful or difficult to manage horses. If the operator allows such a pairing and the rider loses control of the horse, then it is likely that a court will hold the operator to have acted negligently. Because of presumed special knowledge and skill, inexperienced riders will reasonably look to the operator of the stables for guidance on the suitability of horses for riding - if they fail them in this regard, they will likely be considered to have acted negligently. 

You may be able to make a personal injury claim if any of the following circumstances apply.

  • The owner failed to ensure that the horses were properly trained for riding, or provided horses which were poorly disciplined or prone to throwing riders;
  • The owner failed to consider your degree of experience, and whether the horse was appropriate for you in light of this, or whether you needed additional assistance;
  • The owner failed to adequately supervise riding activities
  • The owner didn’t point out risks to you or advise on how you could reduce these risks, or you were not given an adequate health and safety briefing.
  • The owner failed to provide adequate safety equipment, or failed to show you how to use this equipment to best effect;
  • The owner or stable operator did not have an adequate emergency response plan in place, and was not sufficiently prepared to provide first aid or to alert emergency services in the event of an accident

The owner of a stable should take certain precautions to ensure that riders are not injured. These include:

  • Ensuring that all horses offered out for riding have the appropriate experience, training and temperament. Where a horse has shown itself to be aggressive or has demonstrated a tendency to throw riders in the past, the owner should take account of this and should not continue to offer the horse out until the issue is addressed;
  • Ensuring that all riders are provided with adequate safety equipment and are instructed on how to handle the horse;
  • Ensuring that riders receive a health and safety briefing and are made aware of potential dangers, and what they can do personally to reduce the risk that an accident will occur;
  • Ensuring that there is a plan in place for dealing with accidents and providing first aid where someone is injured by one of the horses.
Failure to abide by these precautions could mean that they have acted negligently and, in the event of injury, open them up to having a claim made against them.

How much compensation can I claim?

The compensation which you are awarded will take into account both the financial and non-financial losses which you will suffer as a result of the injury.

Financial losses will include any earnings which you have lost as a result of being off work due to your injuries, as well as any miscellaneous expenses which you have incurred such as medical expenses, the cost of adaptations necessary to enable you to live with your injury, transportation to and from hospital appointments and the cost of physiotherapy. Under this heading you can also claim for the reduction in your ability to earn money in future.

Non-financial losses will include a payment to compensate you for the injury itself, and the pain and inconvenience which you have experienced. In addition, you may be able to claim for loss of amenity if the injury prevents you from engaging in activities that you previously enjoyed or interferes with your daily living.

How can I make a personal injury claim?

Personal injury claims can be complicated and in most cases you will require assistance from a solicitor. The laws under which horse-related personal injury claims are brought are no different from other types of personal injury claim, but a specialist equine lawyer will have a greater understanding of how these laws apply in the context of riding accidents and will also be more knowledgeable about what the courts consider to be acceptable standards of care and precaution in riding scenarios.

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