Our client was at the local horse stable looking for a horse to lease or buy for her daughter who was a competitive Gyhmkhana Rider. While walking by one of the stables, she was unexpectedly bitten on the stomach by a horse.
The attack took place at the stables where our client’s daughter was taking lessons. The horse lunged forward and tore at our client’s stomach resulting in a massive injury requiring two laparoscopic surgeries and medical bills.
Long ago and for an unrelated matter, this family was referred to our office by a local Orange County Superior Court judge. Not only were they past clients, but also friends. When they called for help with the horse bite injury, we told them we would do all we could.
We filed a claim with the insurance company providing coverage for the owner of the horse. The owner denied responsibility and also denied that her horse had bitten our client. The insurance company denied the claim.
We file an Orange County Superior Court lawsuit. During the litigation process, we produced photographs of the horse and stable taken the day following the attack by our client and her husband. We also produced evidence of a sign posted by the horse owner the day after this incident stating, “This is not a petting zoo”.
After learning of the photographs and sign, the insurance company for the horse owner changed its position as to which horse attacked our client. A new argument was then presented that while the horse may have belonged to its insured, it was our client’s fault for allowing the horse to bite her.
Because of this argument, settlement negotiations reached a standstill and a jury trial date was set for April. Last Friday, the parties participated in a non-binding settlement mediation with Judicate West in Santa Ana, California. After a four hour mediation with Harrison Sommer, the case was settled.
Most personal injury cases are settled before trial. When the parties, for whatever reason, are unable to engage in meaningful settlement discussions, a non-binding mediation with a professional mediator is often times useful. If settlement or mediation is unsuccessful, then we would have been ready to try the case before an Orange County jury.
In 28 years of practicing law, we’ve handled dozens of serious dog bite cases. If memory serves us correctly, this is the first time we have been asked to represent someone injured as a result of a horse bite. We’re glad we were able to make a difference and bring value to the case. Please click here if you’d like to share this case on Twitter. Also please use the links below to share or comment!