Compensation for woman and horse injured in car accident

Judge at C
3 minute read

Judge at C

Most personal injury claims feature damages that fall into two parts –  an award for the injury itself and the pain and suffering that injury has caused, known as General Damages, and an award for the financial losses incurred as a result of the accident, known as Special Damages.

In most cases the special damages are related to the injury of the person making the claim, but on occasion we see something a bit different. In a recent case this took the unusual form of losses associated with a valuable dressage horse called Benji.

Victoria was driving her 4×4 and horse trailer along the Motorway when she was hit by an out of control driver, forcing her off the road. As a result, both Victoria and Benji suffered various injuries. Victoria was treated by paramedics while the fire brigade and emergency vets attended to Benji. He was eventually extracted from the trailer by the fire brigade and transported to a local veterinary hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, he had suffered significant head, dental and pelvic injuries. He remarkably survived the initial trauma and returned home with Victoria a few days later.

Sadly, it was immediately apparent that Benji’s competition and ridden career was over. Benji was an extremely well-bred dressage horse that Victoria had already trained to a high level; and so replacing him would be expensive. For those that ride and compete horses it is not just the financial aspect that needs to be considered but also dealing with grief over the sudden loss of one’s dreams.

Given that the loss in value of a dressage horse is an unusual claim for an RTA Insurer to manage, it was important that we sought the correct expert evidence to support the valuation. Strong veterinary evidence was sought from the outset to discuss the nature of Benji’s injuries and to detail a pre-existing, but well managed, orthopaedic condition that is found in many competition horses. Specialist research was obtained to support the management of the condition and evidence that Benji’s ridden and competition career was unaffected. Victoria was able to provide excellent witness evidence from her trainers as to both her ability to train her horses, despite being an amateur, and the ability that Benji was showing for the highest level of dressage work.

From this we were able to instruct a specialist Dressage-focused Equine Consultant to prepare a valuation report on Benji. Our expert was able to analyse the evidence provided and consider the valuation of Benji against both auction sales and private sales over the recent years. She was then able to consider the affect the pre-existing condition (as detailed by the Veterinarian) would have had in relation to the likely purchase price paid should Benji have been offered on the open market had the accident not happened. From this we were able to calculate the financial loss to Victoria and present it to the Defendant Insurer.

The claim was incredibly hard fought by the Defendant Insurers, however despite the Defendant obtaining their own equine evidence, their evidence was not dressage focused and failed to take into account the nuances of training that can add thousands of pounds onto the value of a horse. As a result, shortly after the exchange of the evidence the Defendant Insurers agreed to settle the claim, including our valuation of Benji in full.

As my own passion for horses has seen me training and riding competitively for over 30 years in the spheres of Dressage, Eventing and Racing, I knew how important it was to Victoria that she recover some compensation for his loss as a competitive animal.  By ensuring that I’d instructed the correct experts from the outset of a claim, and making sure they asked the right questions to give the best possible outcome, I was able to obtain some justice for both Victoria and Benji.

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