7 Apr 2011

Injured driver sues horse owner for £3.8m

court-room

A woman whose horses strayed onto the A46 is being sued for £3.8m by a motorist who was badly injured when his car collided with one of them. By Charlotte White, Horse & Hound
It is believed to be the largest sum demanded in a case involving a loose horse
David Owen of Broadway, Worcester, was driving his Fiat Punto at 5.50am on 25 February 2008 when he hit one of two horses, belonging to Amanda Johnson, he told H&H.
The horse landed on his car roof and crushed him, breaking his neck in four places and damaging his lower spine.
He now suffers back, leg and neck pain and headaches and is unable to work. In 2010 the 62-year-old needed spinal surgery.
“The police told me it was the ninth recorded incident of horses being on the road in this area,” said Mr Owen.
Mrs Johnson, of Parks Farm House, Aldington, Evesham, was prosecuted at Worcester Magistrates Court on 29 September 2008.
She pleaded guilty to the offence under the Animals Act 1971 of allowing her horses to be on the road and was fined £750 with costs of £60
Now Mr Owen wants compensation. He accuses Mrs Johnson of negligence, saying shefailed to keep her horses in a securely fenced field, and failed to take steps to stop trespassers from damaging the fence by climbing over it.
Mrs Johnson failed to ensure her fences were robust enough and that gates were closed and secured, the writ says.
She failed to repair a fence which was damaged by a flood, failed to check the fences often enough, and failed to maintain the fencing, it is alleged.
Mr Owen, a construction maintenance engineer, says his inability to work has led to demands from business creditors asking him to sell his premises in Evesham.
He wants an immediate payment of £400,000 and puts his total claim at £3,871,421. This includes more than £46,000 in solicitors’ and barrister’s fees.
Mrs Johnson was contacted by H&H but did not return our calls.
No date has yet been set for the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (31 March, 2011)

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