Horse riding is an extremely popular leisure activity in the United Kingdom, especially in more rural environments. Equestrian activities can however lead to a multitude of injuries ranging from very minor to fatal.
On average, approximately two horses a week are killed on UK roads alone, with 845 incidents involving horses reported to The British Horse Society in 2020. Injuries arising from competitive events have also received considerable media attention in the last few years, with five eventing deaths and numerous serious injuries to leading jockeys.
Injuries may be an inevitable consequence of horse riding but that does not mean that all accidents should be unquestionably accepted. A claim for compensation should be considered if you were injured in an equestrian accident that was caused because of somebody else's mistake or negligence.
Types of Horse-Riding Accidents
The most common equine injuries arise in the following circumstances:
- Road traffic accidents - Although, according to the Highway Code, riders owe a duty of care to other road users, equally drivers must also take care when passing or approaching horses on public roads
- At riding schools or trekking centers - Poorly planned and conducted riding lessons where instructors fail to provide riders with a horse suitable for their level of experience, or if horses, who are known to be troublesome are allocated to novice riders who are then unable to control them or an inexperienced instructor taking the activity or lesson beyond the ability of the rider.
- Falls and injuries as a result of riding on unsuitable surfaces
- Injuries sustained from being bitten, kicked or crushed by a horse against a wall or gate in the stable.
- Faulty or poor-fitting equipment (i.e. saddles, bridle, girth or reigns) or incorrect clothing (shoes without reinforced toes, inappropriate clothing, incorrectly fitted riding hats or failures to provide high-viz jackets or vests when riding on the road).
- Accidents at work - If you work with horses at a riding school, stud farm, competition/training yard or trekking center, your employer is legally responsible for providing you with safe working conditions and equipment . There are particular risks applicable to working within the equestrian industry. If you're exposed to risk and become injured by a horse because of your employers negligence, you are legally entitled to hold them to account.
- Occupiers Liability - Owners of equestrian properties are legally responsible for taking all reasonable steps to maintain the property and guard against the risk of foreseeable accidents which could arise where a property is not adequately maintained . If you suffer an injury as a result of any defect at an equestrian property you may be entitled to claim compensation.
- Competitions or events - When organisers have not taken proper precautions, measures or risk assessments to reduce the risk of injury to protect both competitors and spectators.
How Long Do You Have to Make a Claim
The law provides that in the case of injured adults you must have made your claim within 3 years of the date of accident/injury or 3 years of your knowledge of the accident/injury. Court proceedings must be commenced before the 3 year period expires . In the case of injured children (persons under the age of 18 at the date of accident/injury) the period for making a claim expires on their 21st birthday ie 3 years from the child becoming 18 years of age . It is however important to take legal advise as soon as possible . Taking witness statements and obtaining important accident related documents is easier if done as close to the event as possible as memories can fade with time and documents can be lost or destroyed.
What You Can Do To Help Your Claim
The law surrounding horse riding accidents can be difficult and complex. If you have been injured and intend to seek compensation for your injuries it is always advisable to gather as much evidence as you can from the outset.
- Report your accident to the Police if the accident occurs on the road or in a public place
- Obtain a copy of the Accident Report Form if the accident occurs at a riding centre, event or at your place of work
- Ask around to see if anyone has experienced a similar accident (maybe at the same riding school or riding the same horse)
- Take photographs of your injuries
- Take photographs of the area where your accident occurred, and the horse
- Obtain details of any witnesses to the accident
- Attend your GP or hospital to obtain treatment for your injuries as soon as possible
- Retain receipts for any financial losses incurred.
Making a horse riding accident claim
If you have suffered an injury in a horse-riding / equestrian accident that was not your fault, there is a high chance that you may be able to file an equestrian accident claim. Forbes Solicitors have an experienced Personal Injury Claims Team dealing with all aspects of equine accidents causing personal injury on a no win, no fee basis.
To receive further information relating to any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Robin Bower, Head of Equine Injury Litigation at Forbes Solicitors in Blackburn direct on 01254 222 356 or for a free consultation, please contact a member of the claims team on 01254 222 399. You can also contact the team via the Contact form.