Woman sues for medical negligence following vicious horse bite

Date: Dec 09, 2019

A 67-year-old NSW woman sued the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and her practitioner for:

  • Failing to advise her to proper care
  • Failing to refer her to an orthopaedic specialist
  • Failing to identify an injury to her rotator cuff

She sought $910,372 worth of damages for:

  • Personal injury
  • Economic loss
  • Animal care costs for her unprofitable business

The incident of the original injury

The plaintiff lives on a horse float where she cares for and trains her 20 horses. On 19 September, 2010 she reached through her gate to push a hay biscuit away from an opening under the gate through which one of her stallions was likely to push it out of reach. While she did this, one of her younger mares approached the stallion from behind and, startled, the stallion lurched forward and bit into the plaintiff’s right arm, twisting it upwards against the gate bar.

Details of the case

All parties agreed on the details of the accident, but the heart of the issue lay in whether negligence of the hospital and of the plaintiff’s practitioner delayed surgery such that surgical repair would no longer be beneficial. The court determined that because the plaintiff would have entered a one-year long waitlist for shoulder surgery, any delay would not have made a difference. Moreover, the plaintiff delayed (against her practitioner’s advice) seeing an orthopaedist and it was unlikely that she ever intended to undergo surgery because she had no one else to care for her horses.

The court arrived at these conclusions after analysing the plaintiff’s accounts of her several appointments with her practitioner against her practitioner’s very different accounts of their meetings. Her practitioner had evidence to support his version of the visits whereas the plaintiff’s recollection was imperfect at times.

The plaintiff decided to continue working through her injury, which likely aggravated it, making surgery less viable. This also meant she was responsible for her own contributory negligence.

The court decided on 14 June, 2019 in favor of the defendants, but also awarded the plaintiff $8,000 for future practitioner/psychiatric care.

If you feel you are a victim of medical negligence, get in touch with our experts at Gerard Malouf Partners to find out if you have a case. We believe you deserve justice for any suffering you might have endured at the hands of negligence.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.