Horse lorry ramp case
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I read with interest recently about a case brought by a horse owner Brian Lear who had parked his horse lorry in the Hickstead Showground in West Sussex. He had been directed as to where to park by an employee of the security company engaged by Hickstead.
He had left the ramp down as many of us do when leaving the lorry, but when he came back to it, the ramp had been put back up by another competitor, to make it easier for them to exit the showground. However, unknown to Mr Lear, the way that the ramp had been put back up by just pushing it manually meant that when he came to lower it again using the hydraulics, the ramp suddenly fell and hit him on the head, causing him to suffer a severe head injury.
Mr Lear's case was that the parking arrangements had been mismanaged so that the reason why his ramp had needed to be raised was due to it causing an obstruction to other competitors.
I do not know whether the person who has raised the ramp was identified, or whether Mr Lear's solicitors considered bringing the claim against them.
The Judge hearing the case found that there was no obstruction. The parking system was adequate as there was sufficient space around the lorries and horseboxes, and Mr Lear's ramp was not actually causing an obstruction. Even if it had been, the arrangements in place included a requirement for the owners to put their telephone numbers on show on their vehicles so that they could be contacted if necessary and so there was no liability on the part of Hickstead or the security company.
I suspect that a claim against the person who raised the ramp would also have failed. They would need to have known that what they did would have caused a danger or 'trap' for Mr Lear. I for one would not have known that if it had been me, although I don't think that it would have been something that I would have done anyway. Surely better with an event as organised as that one with a security company on site, to go and speak to one of the security team and ask for help.
Attending local shows as I do on occasions, I can think of other reasons why it would be a good idea to have your contact telephone number on your lorry or trailer, and wonder whether this is something that people feel would be a good idea generally? I think I may do this myself in future. What about when parked up to go on a hack? Do people think that would be a good idea then or can anyone see any security issues in doing so?
Mr Lear's case failed. I have seen many negative comments in response to reports of the case. That is quite normal, especially in the equine world where bringing claims is generally very much frowned upon. Those of us in the 'horsey' world tend to be risk takers by definition!
If I have any message to anyone in Mr Lear's position, I would stress the need to choose a Solicitor who has real specialist knowledge and experience of the type of claim that you wish to bring, especially in the equine world.
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