I was thrown form a horse, fractured a vertebra in my back. Have tons of medical bills

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I was thrown form a horse, fractured a vertebra in my back. Have tons of medical bills

In november I was thrown from a horse and fractured a vertebra in my back. The hrse’s owner’s insurance company only paid me $1000. I am left with huge medical bills. I had to go back to work before the doctor really wanted me to because my disability ran out. So now I am working on my feet all day (pharmacy technician) in my back brace and in constant pain. He and his family have all admitted that this horse will not tolerate a bit on, yet he put a bit on the horse that day. The day before, he did not have a bit on the horse and I rode him all day without any problem. I feel like I have been treated unfairly because the medical bills I am stuck with and the constant pain that I cannot do anything about because I can’t afford to see a doctor. Additionally, the time away from work resulted in my company taking my medical insurance away from me,  What should I do??

Asked on March 21, 2011 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the owner of the horse for negligence.  You should obtain your medical reports which will document the nature and extent of your injuries.  The medical reports will determine the amount of compensation you  receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to your medical bills.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) should include your medical bills, any wage loss and compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for the medical bills and wage loss is straight reimbursement.  As mentioned above, compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills. 

Negligence is based on failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances).  A reasonable person would not have used the bit on a horse known not to tolerate it.  By using the bit with the knowledge that the horse wouldn't tolerate it, the horse owner breached the duty of care owed to you.  In addition to breach of duty, you will need to establish actual cause and proximate cause.  Actual cause means but for the bit, would you have been thrown from the horse and injured?  If the answer is no, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the horse owner of liability?  If the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.  You have now established your case for negligence against the owner of the horse.

In addition to your negligence cause of action (claim) in your lawsuit, you may have a separate claim (cause of action)  for strict liability in the same lawsuit if there has been an incident in the past in which the horse has injured someone.  Strict liability means that the owner of the horse is liable even if he exercised due care.

You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

As for getting additional medical treatment, some doctors will provide medical treatment subject to a lien.  This means that the doctor is paid out of the settlement of the case.

Any settlement of your case should include compensation for the estimated cost of future medical treatment discounted to present value.


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