Horseback Riding Accident...

by Kelly

I invited my friends out to my house to go horseback riding. This is a horse that I've rode since she was 3 years old, now she's 5. On a Sunday, I was riding her for about a half hour and then I asked one of my friends if they would like to get on her. She said yes. So I first let her get to know the horse by petting her and talking to her.

Then after about 5 minutes, I asked if she was ready to get on. She said yes. So I gave her a leg up. The horse was bareback, and I had a halter on her and I was leading her with my friend on her back. I lead them around for about 15 - 20 minutes, then I asked if she wanted to try trotting. She said yes. So we were going up and back down the alley way that I was previously riding in.

The horse went to get up into a trot and my friend lost her balance and fell off. We took her to the hospital in my small town, were we found out that she broke the big bone in her wrist. The doctor said that she'd have to go to a bigger hospital. On Monday when we were back at college we went to see the doctor there. He told her what to expect for her wrist.

In the meantime my father turned the accident into the liability insurance and they will cover up to $5,000 on her surgery. My friend does not have health insurance and has retained a lawyer. I was wondering what will happen? Can we lose our ranch over this, when it was clearly an accident? Will we have to pay for all of her bills? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Horseback Riding Accident...":

Kelly (SD):

Don't immediately come to conclusions. You and your Dad are not going to lose the ranch over a broken wrist. Unless the doctor says the bone will not heal properly you don't have very much to be concerned with.

The worst case scenario would be if the injury was of a type as to be permanently debilitative and at the same time your friend was, or was studying to be, a concert pianist, surgeon, fighter pilot, or any other type of career which would require use of her wrist equal to that before the injury.

A less extreme scenario would be if your friend's wrist was permanently debilitated and she was not now, or planned to be a concert pianist, etc.

Under those extreme circumstances there might exist the possibility of a substantial jury award or settlement amount. Without much more detailed information and access to her medical records it's impossible to tell what those amounts might be.

A more realistic scenario would include the complete healing of your friend's broken wrist. If that is the case the jury award (only if she files suit of course), or more probably the insurance settlement amount would be a multiple of her medical bills.

That multiple would take into account her medical bills, out of pocket expenses such as prescription and over the counter medications, casts, slings for her wrist, or other medical aids, her lost wages during the time she was treating and recovering, and an amount for pain and suffering.

Because costs besides only the medical bills can be very subjective and hard to accurately calculate, the insurance companies have traditionally decided settlement amounts based upon a multiple of an injured party's medical bills.

That multiple can be anywhere from 1x to a maximum of 5x. That is the normal range, with 1.5x multiple being appropriate for a case where the injury is a "soft tissue" injury (i.e. sprains, muscle tears, and the like), up to 5x or more, which would include a broken bone and higher medical bills.

If the maximum amount of insurance available is $5,000 dollars and that includes your father's homeowners and any other separate liability insurance polices your dad might have, there is a chance he might have to come up with a few thousand dollars out of his own pocket. But chances are his liability insurance will more than cover the girl's injuries. So don't worry.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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