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Title: Liability for a runaway horse?

Date: 30 September 2015

I was riding along a country lane when a horse ran out of a field causing me to lose control of the bike. I broke my arm and have a lot of bruising.

My wife went back to the accident scene and took photographs of the fencing around the field that the horse escaped from. The fences were not in their first youth and appeared to have been badly repaired in a number of places.

The owner of the horse is refusing to compensate me saying her horse was on livery at the time and therefore she believes that the livery yard is responsible?

Who is liable for for my injuries, the horse owner or the livery yard owner? Thank you.

Paul Higgs, Gloucester

Answer

Rather than dealing with this yourself I suggest you get a lawyer.

If it is true that the horse was on livery at the time of the accident then the yard owner is under a duty to have taken reasonable care of the horse and should have taken reasonable steps to ensure its and others’ safety, for example by satisfactorily maintaining the perimeter fencing. This is known as bailment.

You should instruct a solicitor who will send a letter of claim to the livery yard owner in the first instance to which they will have 21 days to respond and a further 3 months in which to make a decision in respect of liability.

If it transpires that the horse was not on livery then the owner would potentially be liable. It is likely that the livery yard owner and animal owner will have third party liability insurance through pet insurance to cover your claim. You may wish to discuss with your solicitor the possibility of sending a letter of claim to both the livery yard owner and the horse owner in the first instance so that the clock starts ticking and you can decide who you wish to pursue when you receive the responses.

This will avoid you having to start the process all over again should it transpire that there was no livery agreement in place.

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