An experienced horse rider who was involved in an accident with a camper van has been awarded £87,400 in damages.
Sally Stoddart, then 14, was riding with a friend when the accident happened in 2002. As she was turning off a bridleway and into the road, an oncoming van failed to stop in time and collided with her horse. The horse rolled onto Ms Stoddart, causing permanent damage to her pelvis. As a result, she is likely to need a hip replacement at some point in the future.
When the case first came to court, the judge found that Ms Stoddart and the driver of the van were equally at fault. According to the judge, the speed at which Ms Stoddart exited the bridleway and her failure to keep a proper lookout contributed to the accident, although the van driver should have slowed down after seeing Ms Stoddart’s friend turn into the road ahead of her.
The van driver appealed this decision, arguing that Ms Stoddart should bear more of the blame for the accident. The Court of Appeal decided, however, that a 50/50 split in liability was fair in the circumstances and confirmed the amount of the compensation.
It is estimated that 100 traffic accidents every year are attributable to horse riding, with some research suggesting it is a more dangerous activity than riding a motorcycle.