In our weekly legal column, the Leader, with the expert advice of the team at GHP Legal, sets out to answer some of your problems. Today's question is answered by partner Robert Williams...

Collapsed barbed wire fence caused injuries to me and my horse. Should I sue?

Q: I was riding my horse on a bridleway adjacent to agricultural fields bounded by a barbed wire fence. The posts were in poor condition and at one point the barbed wire was lying across the bridleway. I didn't notice this, and my horse's leg became entangled in the barbed wire. He panicked, I came out of the saddle, we both sustained injuries, and I incurred a hefty vet bill. My husband spoke to the landowner after walking the track and discovering other places where the barbed wire could be a public hazard. The landowner's response was unprintable. Should I sue him in the hope it prevents others suffering a similar accident?

A: The information you have given suggests that the landowner has broken the law by having a barbed wire fence on a bridleway. Barbed wire should not be fixed on the public right of way side of a fence as it is a public hazard to users. It should especially not be used on bridleways where horses need space to safely pass and turn around.

Landowners with a public right of way crossing through their land, or whose land abuts a public right of way, must ensure the fence does not obstruct or encroach on the width of the path. Further, they must keep the fence in good order. If using barbed wire, the fence must be inside the boundary of their land, on the field side.

You should take photographs of the offending barbed wire at the point of your accident, and the general state of the fence, as evidence. Also collect receipts of expenses relating to the accident, such as vet bills. When you have as much information as possible, you should make an appointment to see a local solicitor who will be able to help you make a claim against the landowner.

• This question has been answered by Robert Williams, a partner with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

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