A couple who suffered severe injuries when a loose horse crashed into their car have launched a legal battle for compensation.

According to a High Court writ, Susan Carlisle, 52, suffered a severe brain injury and facial fractures when the car driven by her husband, Alan, collided with a horse called William, who was killed in the crash.

Mrs Carlisle needs care and supervision for the rest of her life, and the couple hopes to win damages of more than £150,000.

Mr Carlisle injured his neck in the accident on the A27 in Sussex when William and two other horses broke free as they were being led and headed into oncoming traffic.

The Carlisles are now suing William’s owner, Marie Le Count; Joanne Adsett, who owned the other two horses; Stephanie Cooper, who was leading William, and Keith Langmead, who owned the stable where the horses were kept.

Ms Cooper and Ms Adsett were leading the horses in headcollars at about 4.30pm on 3 December 2001 when the horses became spooked as they passed parked workmen’s trucks. The horses broke free, and made for the junction with the dual carriageway, according to the writ.

Mr and Mrs Carlisle, of Pipit Close, Weymouth, say that the horse and the stable owners are liable under the Animals Act 1971. They say William’s owner and leader knew of the characteristic of horses to take flight as a result of being frightened.

Although the other horses avoided the collision, the couple is suing their owner, claiming that her horses took flight before William, causing him to take flight, therefore contributing to their injuries.

The couple says Keith Langmead, of Manor Farm Stables, Poling, near Arundel, knew that horses could cause severe damage, because of characteristics displayed in particular circumstances when they take flight after being frightened.

The writ also claims the four defendants were negligent in allowing William to be led back to the stables in the dark, with two other horses with a reputation for being easily spooked.

Keith Langmead said: “We will go to court to resist it. It was a nasty accident at a time of day when visibility is not good.”

In March 2003, horse owners Andrew and Susan Henley were held strictly liable for injuries to motorist Hossein Mirvahedy in an accident in Devon in 1996, after their horses escaped from a field.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (28 April, ’05)


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