A guide to making a No Win No Fee horse riding road accident claim
The British Horse Society estimates that there are around 3,000 road traffic accidents involving horses in the UK each year. Such accidents not only damage vehicles but also lead to injury in motorists, riders and horses.
Most horse riding accidents on the roads occur in the countryside, on minor roads or at junctions, where drivers have failed to notice the horse and its rider.
Accidents can also occur because a horse reacted unpredictably to a horn beep or the rider failed to wear high-visibility clothing.
Whatever the cause, an injured party is entitled to make a claim for compensation if the accident was a result of negligent behaviour on the other side.
What are the responsibilities of both parties
Both motorists and horse riders are responsible for each other's safety. This responsibility comes under the common law duty of care' which dictates that people using the highway do what is reasonably expected to avoid causing harm to other road users.
If a road traffic accident between a motorist and a horse rider does occur, which results in personal injury, either or both parties could be held negligible. Apportioning negligence will depend on whether one or both parties were at fault.
The Courts will consider: "Were the parties' actions directly to blame for the accident? Could the accident have been avoided if due care was taken?
What are the rules for motorists?
Drivers are required to adhere to the general rules of road use, as set out in sections 159 to 161 of the Highway Code. They are required to:
- Check mirrors, blind spots and signal correctly at all times (159, 161)
- Keep to the left (unless markings say differently) (160)
- Drive with both handles on the wheel where possible (160)
- Be aware of other road users (including horse riders), and give them plenty of room (160)
In addition to this, the British Horse Society also gives clear guidance to motorists on how to act when horses are on the road. This includes:
- Leaving plenty of room between the vehicle and the horse
- Not revving the engine or beeping the horn
- Slowing down and waiting until it is possible to pass widely and slowly
What are the rules for horse riders?
Horse riders have a right to use the road. Often it is their only means of accessing bridleways or other off-road amenities.
Sections 49 to 55 of the Highway Code give specific advice to horse riders using the roads. This includes wearing the correct safety equipment, including helmet, hard sole shoes and fluorescent or reflective clothing (with bands for the horse).
They are also required to:
- Ensure all tack fits correctly and they can control the horse (52)
- Look behind and give a clear arm signal before turning or riding off (53)
- Keep to the left (53) Move in the direction of the traffic flow in a one way street (53)
- Never ride more than two abreast (53)
- Keep both hands on the reigns unless signalling and both feet in the stirrups (53)
- Avoid roundabouts where possible. If using, stay to the left and watch for vehicles. Signal correctly to exit.
Making a claim
If an accident between a horse rider and vehicle is believed to have been caused due to negligence from the other party, and that accident resulted in injury, a claim may be made.
In order for a claim to be successful, evidence such as that provided by eye witnesses and CCTV cameras will usually need to be provided to support it.
Your solicitor will be able to advise further on this point and assist with gathering this evidence.
Call a member of our specialist team on 0800 612 7456 for more information.