A 55 year old woman out hacking her horse died after they met some farm vehicles in a lane.
The tragedy occurred in May 2013, in South Yorkshire. According to a witness the drivers of the vehicles, a grass forager and a tractor, stopped to allow the horse to pass but it became agitated and bucked Mrs Francis out of her saddle. She was dragged along the road and sustained fractures to her neck and skull, despite wearing a helmet.
Stephen Hill, the witness also said that “the tractor drivers were in no way to blame”.
A Judge ruled in Rotherham crown court in February 2014 that the death was an accident.
In giving expert comment on this case it is important to note that this was not a farm accident or an accident on a farm due to the negligence of the farmer or farm workers employed by the farmer. The Judge was quite clear that the farm workers acted appropriately and the farm equipment was used quite properly and that no blame at all could be apportioned to the farm whatsoever.
This tragic case does show however that with farm equipment all possible care needs to be taken to ensure that (particularly when farm equipment is taken from the farm work area) it is essential that it is operated with additional care and regard for the safety of the public. It made no difference in this case but the Judge’s remarks clearly imply that if farm equipment is taken from the farm then exceptional care needs to be taken.