Rider injured in accident seeks nearly £10m damages

  • A riding instructor who suffered serious injuries in a car crash in 2014 is hoping to win nearly £10m in damages.

    Sharon Kelsall now hopes to compete in the Paralympics but says she needs up to £100,000 for a horse, and an arena, to achieve her aim.

    Miss Kelsall spent eight months in hospital after the accident, on the A2070 near Ashford, Kent, four years ago.

    Benjamin Clarkson, of London Road, Ditton, was jailed for two years and eight months, at Canterbury Crown Court in December 2015, having admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

    There was some evidence the 29-year-old, whose Clio strayed across the road to collide with Miss Kelsall’s vehicle, had suffered an epileptic fit at the wheel.

    She said at the time: “I was an outgoing and confident person, but now I am marooned in my flat and reliant on others.

    “[Riding] was closest to my heart and [the accident] has deprived me of everything which made my life worth living.”

    Miss Kelsall, from Ashford, is unable to work or drive as a result of her injuries, but the High Court heard this week the 60-year-old hopes to compete in para sport, or become a dressage judge.

    She has since launched a £9.7million damages claim against Clarkson’s motor insurers.

    Emily Formby, for the insurers, told the High Court: “It is fair to say this is an exceptionally high value claim.”

    Before the accident Miss Kelsall was “not a high earner”, the barrister told the judge, Sir Robert Francis.

    But much of her claim is to pay for “continuing support to enable her to engage in horses and riding, and to engage with the disabled riding pathway”.

    Her lawyers say she will need a suitable horse – valued at £25,000 to £100,000 – and assistants to get to the Paralympics.

    Miss Kelsall’s barrister, Niall MacLean, said her “severely disabled right arm” makes riding awkward, while she also “cannot walk any distance”.

    Before the accident, she also earned money by making cheese, he said, adding: “She won’t be able to return to cheese-making”.

    Continues below…

    Speaking of her desire to train as a top disabled rider, Sir Robert said: “She has ambitions to become a Paralympian.

    “For that purpose it is said she needs to have a field next door to her house in which to keep her horses – and an arena in which to ride.”

    The case was in court for a directions hearing and the full trial of the claim is expected to take place towards the end of this year.

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