Can I claim compensation for an injury involving working with horses?

If your personal injury was the result of an accident for which you weren’t to blame, you are on well on your way to being able to make a claim for compensation. If, additionally, your accident occurred because your employer failed to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable your health, safety and welfare at the riding establishment or livery stables where you work, it will probably only take a short time for a specialist personal injury claims solicitor to determine the connection between your accident and your employer’s failure to discharge her legal duty of care to you. If that connection is there then your claim can usually go ahead.

Although equine businesses are sometimes not structured like ‘normal’ workplaces and are often run by families and friends and have employees carrying out similar tasks to those family, friends or the customers paying to hire horses or livery their horses, the owner or employer has a duty of care to all of them, employees and non-employees alike. You do not therefore need to have been an employee when you suffered your injury to be able to make your claim although the duty of care to an employee entails a greater extent of responsibilities than does the duty of care to a non-employee. In the former instance health, safety and welfare of individuals have to be taken into account, in the latter only the health and safety of non-employees. Usually, in the case of a workplace accident and claim for compensation this differentiation will have no bearing on the validity of the claim.

A straight forward example of an employer’s failure to discharge their duty of care towards an employee in their stables would have been to neglect to warn that employee that horses are unpredictable and nervous animals who possess a dangerously powerful and long reaching kick and as a result of that lack of training, the employee sustained a serious injury due to being kicked. Another straightforward example of an employer’s failure to discharge their duty of care would be a failure to supply adequate protective equipment, such as a hard hat and body protector to an employee expected to exercise horses by riding them and due to the lack of equipment that employee sustained a serious head injury when she/he fell from their horse.

Making an Equine Injury Claim

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Common causes of injury when working with horses

The British Horse Society, on average, is notified of eight accidents involving horses and persons who ride or work with them, each and every day of the year – and these reports do not by any means represent the total number of accidents and injuries involving working with horses in the UK. There are, in short, a lot of accidents and injuries in the equine sector but the injuries themselves fall mainly into just two main categories:

1) Horse inflicted injuries. These represent by far the most common injuries that are suffered by workers in the equine section. Such horse inflicted injuries usually result from a person being kicked, crushed or dragged by the horse. According to Health and Safety Executive statistics there are two horse inflicted injuries to every one of any other injury type suffered by equine sector workers.

2) Falls from height. – This is a common accident for employees in the equine sector but it is the primary cause of injuries for those not employed in the sector and who spend most of their horse related time riding one horse rather than caring for many horses. Recent statistics from America reveal that 85% of horse related injuries to non-employees are falls.

The accidents generally occur for the following reasons:

Lack of training and awareness – horses can be nervous and unpredictable animals, easily spooked by traffic, sudden noises and unfamiliar phenomena. Like other animals they see humans as either a threat to be frightened of, of no importance at all, or to be obeyed. The failure of a rider or groom to understand or be tutored in basic horse psychology can make them vulnerable to accidents caused by the natural reactions of the horse, including the speed, force and reach of their defensive kick. The sheer bulk and weight of a horse can also be the main factor in accidents in which crush injuries are sustained.

A mis-match of rider and horse – horse size and temperament have to be matched to rider experience. When they are not such mis-matches have been statistically shown to be the primary causal factor in the majority of equine accidents.

Lack of suitable clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) – Suitable clothing and PPE are essential for the health and safety of anybody who rides a horse.

It is the legal duty of the employer or the person in total or partial control of an equine establishment to ensure that their employees and those who aren’t employees operate in safe environment. A specialist personal injury solicitor can explain the eligibility criteria to any injured equine worker thinking about claiming injury compensation.

Making a horse injury claim

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