Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit filed by a woman who was seriously injured when she was run over by a horse during a race in which she was participating. The case is important for Maryland personal injury plaintiffs because it acts as a warning, illustrating how defendants may attempt to evade liability through the doctrine of assumption of the risk.
The plaintiff was participating in a horse race spanning either 25 or 50 miles, depending on the rider’s preference. During the race, riders were to stop at checkpoints to obtain playing cards indicating that they did indeed make their way around the predetermined circuit.
At approximately the eight-mile mark, the plaintiff was in the leading group of riders. The plaintiff dismounted her horse to obtain the playing card, as per the race rules. However, as she did so, the defendant’s horse ran into a nearby cluster of other horses, causing a chain-reaction accident. Several of the horses were startled and took off running. The plaintiff was injured when she was trampled by one of the horses.