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Horse Riding Accident Claims

There are thousands of people that participate in horse riding in the UK each year, including committed and professional riders and first-time child riders. An average horse weighs up to 500kg and is capable of reaching speeds of 40mph, making this a potentially dangerous sport for both participants and spectators.

As an equestrian, you will acknowledge that the risk of injury when horse-riding is considerable, and even with the best of intentions and safety measures, accidents can occur. If a horse riding injury is sustained because of negligence on the part of those who are responsible for your safety and the wellbeing of those nearby, a claim for compensation may be possible.

What types of injury can be sustained in a horse riding accident?

There are a range of reasons why you may be injured, both on and off the horse. In some cases, injuries sustained are not actionable from a compensation point of view, but there are some cases in which another party may be liable, such as:

  • Deliberate actions taken to hurt or damage you or your belongings
  • Unintentional, but negligent behaviour that results in you suffering an accident and injury

The types of injuries that can be sustained through horse riding vary significantly. Some of the most common injuries that result in compensation claims include:

  • Head injuries from falls
  • Back, leg and spinal injuries, including bruising, sprains and broken bones
  • Being kicked by a horse
  • Emotional and psychological injuries from traumatic horse riding experience

The severity of the above injuries will vary from one case to another, but the more severe the damage and suffering, the greater a compensation award is likely to be.

Who is liable for horse riding accidents?

To determine whether the injuries sustained in a horse riding accident are eligible for a compensation claim, it must be established whether a duty of care was owed by another party. That is to say that there is a need to prove who was responsible for the accident and subsequent injuries caused to you.

If an injury occurs due to a breach in the rules of a horse riding sport, you will pursue compensation from those who were responsible for the event. Injuries sustained whilst horse-riding on a public road may be deemed to be the responsibility of other road users who are obliged to abide by the Highway Code.

Alternatively, managers of riding schools or equestrian events have a legal duty of care to ensure that all participants and attendees are protected from unreasonable risk. Such organisations are not able to mitigate their responsibility by communicating notices such as ‘no liability accepted’. Even if such notices are in place, the law overrides this suggestion and demands that adequate safety provisions are in place at all times.

Am I eligible to claim if I was injured as a spectator at a horse riding event?

Spectators at horse riding events are legally protected against the risk of injury through the duty of care that is owed to them by the organisers of the event. However, you must acknowledge the level of risk in attending an event and act appropriately within the safety measures to ensure that you are not liable for your own suffering.

To be eligible to make a claim as a spectator at a horse riding event, you must be able to prove that any injury sustained was a direct result of negligent or intentional behaviour on the part of the defendant.

In some cases, the inappropriate actions of the horse rider may make them liable for any claims, whereas in other instances, such as poorly maintained racetracks or seating areas, the organisers will be considered responsible for any damages.

Is there a time limit for beginning a horse riding accident claim?

As with the majority of personal injury claims, horse riding accident claims must usually honour a three year period for initiating the case.

In some circumstances, it may be possible for this period to be extended, but only if the injuries sustained were not discovered until a point in time after the accident, or the person injured was under 18 years old.

You are advised to begin your claim at the earliest opportunity to ensure that these time limits are not exceeded, the evidence to support your claim is easier to obtain, and memories of the incident are clearer for both yourself and any witnesses.