Riding accident claim after rider broke neck while working at racing stables
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I read an article today of a claim being brought by Laura Coward who was working at a racing stables Horse First Racing Ltd when she suffered a broken neck after riding one of the race horses.
She lost control of the horse Saucy Night as it bolted with her and she was thrown to the ground. She is now in a wheelchair having suffered a severed spinal cord.
The case raises some interesting issues from a legal point of view. Laura was not employed to ride the horses, although she was a keen horsewoman. I can see that the Court case will involve some arguments about whether she was acting in the course of her employment when the accident happened. If she was then the stables as her employer will have owed her a duty of care and should have made sure that she was capable of riding the horse.
She claims that the horse had not been ridden for some time and was strong, but that she was told that it would be OK. She claims that the horse should have been led.
There is also a suggestion that the horse had been suffering from a condition called 'strangles' and that affected its temperament on the day. She will probably need to provide evidence about that from a Vet, not only that the horse had suffered from the condition, but also how that might have affected the horse's behaviour.
The comments that I have seen about the article are not sympathetic to the girl. I agree that anyone riding a horse has to accept an element of risk. All horses can act unpredictably. However, where riding is part of a person's activities at work, their employer owes a duty of care to them as with any other potentially dangerous type of work. The Health & Safety legislation applies to employment in the rural and agricultural sector as much as to building sites and factories.
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