True accidents do happen

Riding Accident in Christchurch Woods

The accident happened on 11 January 2012 in Christchurch Woods. Tina Blandford claimed that, when riding with two friends on a trail they had used regularly, her horse had been frightened by an approaching lorry, causing it to bolt and throw her to the ground. She suffered rib fractures.

She claimed that the driver failed to stop despite noticing the horses. She also argued she should have been prevented from riding in the area or that warning signs should have alerted her to the fact that trees were being felled.

She brought claims in negligence and/or breach of common law duty of care against the Forestry Commission (and the haulage company and its driver).

Judgement

The Forestry Commission’s duty, whether at common law or under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, was to take such care as was reasonable in all the circumstances. The judge found that it had done so.

Signs were in place where logging was taking place; the accident happened half a mile away. The judge ruled that it should have been obvious to any reasonable, prudent horse rider that a lorry or similarly-sized vehicle might use the forest road; and that, even if signs had been there, the rider would probably have proceeded anyway. The log-transporter was being driven slowly.

The trial judge concluded with this quote from another riding case cited below (Balcombe LJ in James v Bather):

“It needs to be said that there are still such things as true accidents and that not every accident can be attributed to the negligence of some person or persons. Riding, as everybody knows, is a sport and all sports necessarily carry some degree of risk.……What one should have foreseen when one knows what happened is not necessarily the same as should have been foreseen prior to the accident happening. This was a true accident.”

Blandford v Forestry Commission and others B08YJ443 Bristol County Court October 2016

James v Bather t/a as Hill Barn Riding Stables (199 5) Lexis citation 3625

This case law entry was written by Ken Dodd VSCG Chairman

This website entry was last updated on 6 November, 2018

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