Blake Lapthorn was very good and efficient. They kept me well informed.
Horse and Trap Accidents: Failure to Wear a Riding Hat
Fri 26th Aug 2011 Personal injury
It is unusual to see reports of accidents involving a horse and trap, and even more unusual to see personal injury cases involving them.
This is a link to a news report involving
a horse which bolted, and as it did so, the trap struck a road sign which
caused the man in the trap to be thrown. Sadly he later died in hospital. It is
not known what caused the horse to bolt, but even though the lady got out to
calm it, the horse still bolted.
There is also a law report of a case Sally Bodey v Gillian Hall which involved a claim brought after an accident in very similar circumstances. In this case, the horse was pulling a trap and the Claimant Sally Bodey was acting as a groom to the driver. The horse bolted, the trap tilted and Sally was thrown from the trap.
The case involved consideration of the Animals Act 1971 which is a difficult piece of legislation to interpret as it is commonly regarded as very badly drafted and you can never be sure how it will be interpreted by the Courts. Despite several proposals for amendment of the Act nothing has yet been done and no doubt the current government will also have much more pressing matters on which to spend their time.
The similarity with the recent accident reported by the BBC is that once again the horse had been spooked by something unknown.
The outcome of Sally Bodey's claim was that the Court held that whilst the Defendant would have been liable under the provisions of the Animals Act 1971 for the injury caused in the accident, Sally was an experienced horsewoman and so aware of the risk of injury. She had therefore consented to that risk and so her claim failed.
It is interesting to note that she was not criticised for failing to wear a riding hat. The Court stated that had the claim been successful then Sally's damages would not have been reduced as a result. This differs from the position when a car driver or passenger fails to wear a seat belt where their damages may be reduced as a result. Cyclists have also been criticised for failing to wear a cycle helmet even though they are not legally required to do so. This is the same as the legal position for riding hats which are not compulsory except for children under 14.
Drivers of a horse or pony and trap can be held liable for accidents caused by their negligence just as car drivers can. They may be liable for injuries caused to their passenger as well as other road users. They have the additional potential liability under the Animals Act, as a result of which they can be responsible for damage done by the horse or pony even if they have not been negligent. This is known as strict liability.
The driver of a horse or pony and trap are not subject to the regulations requiring compulsory insurance that applies to motor vehicles. Even so, it is advisable for a driver to have third party liability as that would protect them against claims made against them should an accident happen. The insurance company will defend claims if they consider the driver should not be liable, or pay claims where the driver has been negligent.
For further information please contact Julia Prior, a Senior Solicitor in Blake Lapthorn's Personal Injury Team on 023 8085 7316 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like us to call you back?
Call us between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or use the enquiry form outside office hours
Or call us on 0844 620 6600