Case Study: Shoulder Fracture and Psychological Issues After Horse Riding Accident Due to a Poorly Maintained Gate

Mrs O received £7,000 Compensation

JMW has helped a woman obtain £7,000 compensation after she suffered a fractured shoulder following a horse riding accident due to a poorly maintained gate.

The claim

Mrs O suffered a fracture to her right shoulder and soft tissue injuries to her back, chest and right leg when she was attempting to pass through a gate on a public right of way whilst riding her horse.  The gate sprung back whilst she was passing through it, causing her horse to bolt, knocking her to the ground.  She decided to make a claim and got in touch with JMW Solicitors where Michael Walker, Associate Solicitor, handled her case. 

Starting the case

Mrs O told us that the gate was in a poor state of repair, was difficult to open, had chicken wire on it, and would swing back suddenly and violently after it had been opened if it was not being firmly held with both hands, despite being on a regularly used bridleway; something that Mrs O’s husband had complained to the council about prior to the accident.  We wrote a letter of claim to the local council, informing them of Mrs O’s accident and her intention to make a claim. 

However, the council responded, suggesting that a private landowner was responsible for the area and therefore we should pursue them.  We contacted them and they responded with an offer to provide Mrs O with an assessment to understand what treatment she may still need, whilst they were still considering whether or not they were responsible.  As Mrs O was still in pain, she took them up on this offer, as she was keen to receive rehabilitation treatment. 

Denial of responsibility

The private landowner’s solicitor denied responsibility for Mrs O’s accident.  They claimed that the path wasn’t a bridleway, and Mrs O should have dismounted her horse.  They also claimed that the gate was in a good state of repair. 

Mrs O addressed the reason why she didn’t dismount the horse at the gate; she outlined that the British Horse Society advises against this, and that it is dangerous to dismount and mount from the ground.  As it was becoming clear that establishing which party was at fault on Mrs O’s case was not straightforward, we decided to instruct a barrister to provide some advice on the case and establish the best way to proceed. 

We asked Mrs O to provide us with a statement outlining her accident, her injury and the problems the situation had caused her.  She also told us the correct way to proceed when horse-riding and negotiating bridleways. 

“A nuisance” – the argument supporting Mrs O’s claim

The barrister advised us that the gate was positioned on a public right of way and unless it could be proven that it there was a right to obstruct it with a gate, then the gate constituted a nuisance.  We would need to establish whether the gate, which was fitted 10 years previously, was replacing a pre-existing gate, and whether or not a gate has always been part of that highway.   

We also arranged for Mrs O to be examined by an independent medical expert who would provide a report on her accident, injury and prognosis, in order to support her claim.  We arranged to hold a telephone conference with Mrs O and the barrister, to review the case, as it was reaching limitation – the stage where legally, a personal injury claim should either be settled or involved in the Court process.  Meanwhile, Mrs O informed us that a new gate had been installed in place of the old gate; this gate had been re-hinged and no longer swung back on itself, but stayed open. 

During the conference, we discussed the condition of the new gate.  We also talked about the precise events leading up to the accident, and the accident itself.  We then went through Mrs O’s rehabilitation experience.  After the conference, we decided to get inspection records from both the council and the landowner in relation to the area, as well as extra documentation including the position regarding the bridleways inspector. 

Resolving the case

We received the medical report, which suggested that Mrs O should have made a full recovery from her injuries.  It did however, note some degenerative changes to her back as a result of the accident, and that she was struggling to overcome her fear of horse-riding, so  we arranged to refer Mrs O to a psychiatrist. 

Whilst we were arranging an appointment with the psychiatrist, we were contacted by the landowner’s representatives, who made an offer to settle the case.  After reviewing the offer, we went back to them and sought to negotiate a higher offer.  After negotiation, we were able to agree a final settlement of £7,000.  Mrs O was delighted with this and was finally able to draw a line under the incident and move on.  

Have you also been injured on a public right of way?

If so, speak to our solicitors to find out if you have a case to make a claim. Call 0800 054 6570 or fill in our contact form

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