Horse and rider in accident with camper van
I come across equestrian accidents, as I operate in an area where horse riding is very popular. Take a careful look at the facts of this case and decide the case for yourself. Don’t worry as I will let you know the answer.
The case I will tell you about, involved a 14 year old girl called Sally. Sally had been riding horses for seven years, so was an experienced rider.
Sally and her friend, Hayley, had been out riding. To get back to their yard, they had to ride from a bridleway across a road, then ride along the road for a short distance.
The speed limit on the road was 60 miles per hour.
Hayley crossed first without problem. Sally had hung back to practise a jump so there was a gap between the two horses emerging from the bridleway.
The vehicle was a camper van with a trailer, driven at about 40 miles per hour.
There were other drivers behind the camper van. One said he knew from experience that riders often rode in pairs so he slowed in case a second horse appeared. All vehicles slowed when the first horse appeared and crossed the road, but the camper van then sped up again.
Sally rode her horse out into the road at a trot and collided with the camper van. She had not looked before emerging from the bridleway, she made a mistake. Sally was injured.
So judge this one for yourself.
Despite the Judge finding Sally had made a mistake, the answer is the camper van driver was found to blame. He was well within the speed limit, but was driving too fast to stop if a second horse emerged. He was probably driving too fast if he was going to overtake the first horse. The fact other drivers slowed and the camper van accelerated was very significant.
So the rider wins her case, but what about her own fault. The Judge said 50 per cent blame on the rider’s part.
This was a High Court decision which went to the Court of Appeal on the 50 per cent contributory negligence finding alone. To change the decision of a Judge, the Court of Appeal must find the decision was not open to the Judge on the facts or law in the case, so the decision stood. The decision reflects the heavy duty on the driver of a vehicle which is a “potentially dangerous weapon.”
Every case is different and depends on its own facts. Please do not make a judgment on your own case and let an experienced personal injury solicitor help you.
For the full case decision in Stoddart v Perucca.
For other contributory negligence examples.