Ms S was employed as a yard manager at a stables and on this particular day she was working alone due to staff shortages. As part of her duties she went into one of the stables to change a horses head collar. Ms S was not aware that this particular horse had a history of kicking out. When Ms S entered the stable the horse was at the back of the stable facing her but suddenly swung round and kicked her in the stomach. As a result of the kick Ms S stained significant injuries to her pancreas.
Ms S instructed Hayward Baker personal Injury Solicitors to pursue her claim for compensation. Once her solicitor had ascertained all the facts, explained what is involved making a claim the relevant paperwork was sent for Ms S to read and sign.
Once the signed paperwork was received by her solicitor a letter was written to the stables blaming them for the accident and asking that they pass a copy of this letter to the insurers.
The allegations were as follows:
‘As a result of the kick, the Claimant has sustained significant internal injuries including a haematoma on her pancreas and she has been left with a cyst on her pancreas.
The Claimant’s injury was caused by the Defendant’s breach of statutory duty under s.2(2) of the Animals Act 1971. Further, or alternatively, the Claimant’s injuries and loss were caused by the negligence of the Defendant.
a) Instructing the Claimant to enter the stables when they knew or ought to have known that the Claimant was at a risk of being injured.
b) Failing to provide or maintain for the Claimant a safe system of work.
c) Failing to provide adequate staff to deal with Drago safely
d) Failing to ensure that Drago was kept out of range of the Claimant and this prevented him from kicking the Claimant.
e) Instructing or requesting the Claimant to enter the stable when Drago was liable to react in an aggressive manner
f) Exposing the Claimant to a risk of injury of which they knew or ought to have known
g) Failing to take any or any adequate precautions for the safety of the Claimant.
h) Failing to warn the Claimant of the risk. ‘
Within 2 weeks an acknowledgement was received from the stables insurers stating that they would now investigate the claim and come back with a liability decision at a later date. Although the insurers had 3 months to investigate the claim they returned with a decision on liability seven days later. Liability was not disputed but was subject to causation. This meant that provided that the medical report confirms Ms S was injured as a result of the accident, they have agreed to pay her compensation.
Ms S was informed of the liability decision and that her solicitor was now taking steps to arrange a medical appointment but first asked Ms S to answer the following questions to enable her solicitor to assess whether now was the appropriate time to arrange an appointment:
- Do you still suffer symptoms as a result of the accident?
- If so, what are those symptoms?
- Are you still having treatment at the hospital or with you GP?
- Are you still taking any medication?
Ms S subsequently answered the questions asked of her about her current symptoms and her solicitor requested copies of her medical records from her GP and the hospital she attended in relation to the injuries caused by the accident. In the meantime arrangements would be made for Ms S to see a Consultant General Surgeon who would examine her, after which he would formulate a report upon her injuries.
An update as to Ms S’s symptoms were passed to the insurers and in light of the severity of the injuries they offered full access to their rehabilitation services. They agree to pay for any surgery and treatment as advised by the occupational therapist. please note that it is in the interests of the insurers to offer rehabilitation as this will also help mitigate the claimants losses. Ms S subsequently saw the insurers nutritionist as the current symptoms she was receiving could be controlled by diet. However there was a need for surgery to remove a cyst and there was some low level trauma around horses that could be resolved by talking therapy.
The insurers tried to make an offer in settlement of her claim without the need for a medical report, this is called a pre-med offer. the offer was for £15,000.00 and Ms S’s solicitor advised that she should not take this offer as they were not be able to advise on the reasonableness of this offer without the finalised medical evidence to confirm the exact nature and duration of Ms S’s injuries.
Ms S attended the medical appointment and shortly after the medical report arrived with her solicitor. The report confirmed that the injuries to her pancreas were caused by the accident. The consultant also advised that the symptoms would resolve over the next 12-18 months. However with regard to the cyst there was a small risk of 5% that this may require intervention if the symptoms have not resolved as expected. With regard to fear of working with horses he recommends that she sees a Clinical Psychologist.
A copy of the report was sent to Ms S along with an updated copy of her out of pocket expenses schedule (what is know as special damages) for her to read and amend as required.
Ms S did raise a few questions regarding the medical report for the General Surgeon and these were raised by her solicitor in a letter asking the consultant if he agreed with the points raised to amend his report accordingly. Pancreatic problems are quite complicated and numerous opinions were sort from the rehabilitation experts and the Consultant Surgeon to be able to answer Ms S concerns.
Ms S’s solicitor now had to issue court proceedings as the limitation period had nearly expired in which Ms S had to make her claim, which was 3 years since the date of the accident. Hayward Baker had to take this course of action to protect Ms S as should they issue court proceedings after this date they would have been too late.
In the meantime an offer to settle the claim in full was received by the insurers as they had now been provided with all the medical reports relating to Ms S’s injuries sustained in the accident. The offer was for £30,000.00 if the offer was accepted within 7 days or down to £25,000.00 if accepted within 7 days after this period. Ms S accepted the offer of £30,000.00 in full and final settlement of her claim.
The proceedings that had been issued at Court were now stayed (cancelled).