Horse Rider Injury Claims Rejected by Court of Appeal
Two horse riders who were injured whilst riding horses owned by other people have had their claims for personal injury compensation rejected by the Court of Appeal.
In the case of Goldsmith v Patchcott* a claim was brought by Kara Goldsmith who was injured when she was trying a horse which was offered free to a good home. The horse bucked violently and reared up causing Mrs Goldsmith to fall from the horse which trod on Mrs Goldsmith’s face causing very severe injuries.
A claim for compensation was made against the horse owner, but this was rejected at Newcastle County Court last year when the Judge ruled that as a rider Mrs Goldsmith had assumed the risk of injury when she chose to ride the horse.
Mrs Goldsmith appealed on the grounds that whilst she knew that horses can buck when being ridden she did not expect the horse to buck in such a violent way. However, the Court of Appeal ruled that, even though the horse in question had bucked more violently than expected, the rider knew that horses could buck violently and therefore she had voluntarily accepted the risk of injury when riding the horse. In the circumstances Mrs Goldsmith’s claim failed and she was not entitled to receive any compensation.
The Court of Appeal dismissed a further claim on behalf of a horse rider in the case of Turnbull v Warrener**. The horse was being ridden by Ms Turnbull across a field in a bitless bridle when the horse sped up and, despite the rider’s effort to stop, the horse veered through a hedge and Ms Turnbull was thrown onto a road causing injury.
Ms Turnbull, who was an experienced horse woman, brought a claim for personal injury compensation against the horse owner. However, the Court of Appeal dismissed her claim on the ground that horses are unpredictable animals that do not always respond to the commands of riders and Ms Turnbull had voluntarily assumed the risk of injury when agreeing to ride the horse.
Is it still possible for horse riders to make a claim for personal injury compensation?
The recent decisions of the Court of Appeal have made it clear that if an experienced rider agrees to ride someone else’s horse and they are thrown from the horse or injured as a result of the horse’s actions any claim for compensation is unlikely to be successful.
The recent court decisions will make it much harder for riders to obtain compensation for injury in many cases. However, every case must be considered on it’s own facts and there will still be some cases, for example those involving a complete beginner or inexperienced rider, which could be successful.
If you have suffered an injury in a horse riding accident we would recommend that you contact us obtain expert legal advice regarding a potential claim. We would also urge riders to contact an experienced insurance broker for advice about obtaining their own personal injury insurance to provide cover for injuries sustained whilst riding.
* Goldsmith v Patchcott  EWCA Civ 183
** Turnbull v Warrener  EWCA Civ 412
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