Significantly, 43% of riders reported being subjected to road rage or abuse, and there is no doubt that drivers are regularly impatient and inconsiderate when confronted by horses in their path. Horses are extremely likely to spook and shy, buck or bolt when they are frightened by a vehicle overtaking them too closely or too quickly, particularly when a driver revs their engine or sounds their horn in the process. Riders are often thrown from their horse when it attempts to escape from perceived danger, and the resulting injuries can regrettably be very serious.
As per the Highway Code, while riders owe a duty of care to other road users, drivers are expected to take special care and precautions when approaching or passing horses on the road, and do everything that is reasonably possible to avoid frightening the animals. The Code specifies that horse riders are ‘vulnerable’ road users, and drivers should significantly reduce their speed in their vicinity and always give way at junctions when they are crossing.
In certain cases it can be difficult to establish whether an accident involving a horse rider and vehicle was due to the driver failing to take the necessary precautions, or the horse’s volatile temperament. Sometimes drivers entirely fail to notice horse riders, but in the majority of cases, as the statistics indicate, accidents occur because drivers lack patience and try to pass horse riders leaving insufficient space between them and/or at too high a speed.
Injured horse riders will be able to claim compensation if it can be shown that the horse’s behaviour was due to the actions of a motorist. Apart from compensation for injuries like leg, ankle and pelvic fractures, a rider can also claim for vets bills, the cost of extra stabling, medical costs, and the replacement of damaged clothing and equipment.
Our firm has considerable experience in claiming compensation for horse riders injured on UK roads and at riding schools. Contact us for free and reliable legal advice, and to get started making a claim.
Miss J was booked on a beginner's course at her local riding school. When she arrived for her second lesson, she was informed that the normal instruction yard had been privately booked that day, and that the beginner's lesson was therefore being moved to an adjacent enclosed field. As Miss J was trotting along next to her instructor, the horse she was riding suddenly bucked causing her to fall backwards onto the ground. It later transpired that the horse’s extreme reaction was caused by it stepping on a bed of thistles. Miss J sustained a fractured shoulder in the accident and was taken to the local hospital where she spent two nights before being discharged to recuperate at home.
Miss J’s parents contacted Bartletts Solicitors on their daughter’s behalf, and after considering the facts of her case, we advised that she could make a claim against the riding school. Despite the fact that the field where the class took place had been subsequently mowed, and cleared of thistles and any other apparent obstacles, a fellow pupil from the beginner's class agreed that she had seen the thistles on the day in question, and provided a witness statement to this effect. We argued that the riding school had been negligent in allowing a class to take place in a location that was clearly dangerous for riders of any skill level. After a few months of correspondence, the riding school's insurers admitted liability and agreed to pay Miss J £7,500 in compensation.