Getting Compensation After a Farm Accident
Agriculture is a high-risk industry. Industrial Safety and Hygiene News ranks farmers eighth and agricultural workers 11th on its list of the top 25 most dangerous jobs in the United States.
Furthermore, farm accidents are among the most serious of any occupation. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that approximately 100 agricultural workers every day suffer an injury that leads to lost work time.
You may be entitled to compensation for the injuries and losses you sustain in a farm accident, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- The income you will lose in the future if you are unable to work (known as loss of earning capacity)
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Unfortunately, due to the involvement of insurance companies, the task of recovering compensation can take a long time. In many cases, claims even end up being completely denied by insurers.
To give yourself the best opportunity at recovering the compensation you deserve, you should quickly get in touch with an experienced farm accident lawyer with a reputation for aggressive, efficient representation. Patrick Daniel Law has helped many farm workers recover the compensation they deserve. Agricultural injury lawyer Patrick Daniel can stand up to the insurance companies, employers, and other parties on your behalf all the way through settlement negotiations and even trial.
Common Causes of Farm Accident Injuries
Workers face a number of safety risks on farms every day. Difficult conditions, dangerous machinery, and other factors account for the high rate of serious injuries and deaths among farmers and agricultural workers.
The cause of a farm accident can have a significant impact on your options for recovering compensation. It is important to be aware of your legal rights if you are injured on the job.
Some of the common causes of farm accident injuries and cases include:
Tractor Rollover Accidents
Tractor overturns and other transportation accidents are the number-one cause of death among people who work on farms. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented in overturn accidents if farmers with older tractors would install rollover protective structures (ROPS). Unfortunately, the National Ag Safety Database reports that up to one-half of the tractors manufactured before 1976 have not been outfitted with this crucial safety feature.
Liability for a collision involving a tractor or another vehicle or machine on the farm may rest with multiple parties. As with any vehicle accident claim, it is important to gather evidence of fault on the part of the other driver/operator, as well as the employer and the manufacturer of the vehicle.
Malfunctioning Machinery and Equipment
The machines and equipment commonly used on farms are dangerous even when they work properly. When equipment malfunctions due to a defect, the potential for an accident increases sharply.
If you have been injured by defective farm equipment, you may have a case for agricultural product liability. An experienced attorney can determine if the product was defective and identify the manufacturer and other companies responsible.
Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common causes of workplace injuries. Although they may not seem like much, a trip on loose flooring or wiring can cause injuries just as serious as a fall from a ladder.
As a potentially dangerous workplace, safety measures should be taken seriously on a farm. If you have been injured in a slip, trip, or fall, you may have a claim for compensation.
Failure to Maintain Farm Equipment
As part of routine occupational safety and health measures, farm equipment should be inspected and maintained regularly. Failure to implement a proper maintenance schedule can cause serious injury when equipment malfunctions occur due to inadequate inspection, cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that farming equipment is maintained. If you suspect that a failure to maintain equipment caused you injury, you may be able to claim compensation against your employer.
Exposure to Pesticides
Many of the chemicals used as pesticides can be harmful to humans, especially when they come in contact with skin or are inhaled. Workers who apply these chemicals should use appropriate safety gear and exercise care to ensure that they are out of range of others.
If you are suffering due to pesticide exposure, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. Compensation for exposure to a harmful substance can be obtained through either an individual claim against the manufacturer or (in some cases) a class action.
Potential Avenues to Compensation for a Farm Accident
Having suffered an agricultural injury, you may be wondering what your options are for recovering compensation. There are many possible avenues, and one of the first things your farm accident lawyer will explain is what claim or claims you can bring.
Workers’ Compensation for Farm Accidents
The first option that probably comes to mind is workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, several barriers might prevent you from qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits:
If your employer does have workers’ compensation insurance and you are a covered employee, workers’ compensation benefits only cover a portion of your losses (namely medical expenses and partial replacement of your lost wages). Given these limitations, it is in your best interest to explore additional options for recovering after a farm accident.
Employer Liability for Farm Accidents
An employer can be held liable for a farm accident if (a) your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, (b) you are not covered by your employer’s workers’ comp policy, and/or (c) your agricultural injury was caused by the employer’s negligence. In this scenario you can bring a claim against your employer directly or against the employer’s liability insurance company.
Workers can recover full compensation for losses in a farm accident through a personal injury claim against an employer. However, one difference between personal injury cases and workers’ compensation claims is the requirement to prove fault (workers’ comp benefits are provided on a no-fault basis).
Third Party Liability for Farm Accidents
Multiple third parties may also be liable for farm accidents. This can give rise to multiple claims, including:
At all events, you may have to deal with insurance companies. Their involvement often makes the path to compensation tricky. However, a knowledgeable farm accident lawyer can help protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Farm Accident
Given a choice, insurance companies would rather not pay you fair compensation for your farm accident injury. In fact, they would rather not pay you at all. This is because insurance companies have to look out for their bottom line first.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to preserve your right to compensation and make it harder for the insurance companies to dispute or deny your claim:
- Seek medical attention: Do not try to shake off the injury, as it may be more serious than you think. Seeking medical attention will also ensure that the injury is documented.
- Report the accident: Ensure that the accident gets reported to a superior on the farm. This ensures that your employer is aware of the injury and sets the foundation for a workers’ compensation claim.
- Write down everything you remember: While the incident is fresh in your memory, write down any important details that come to mind. Be sure to include anything said by the manager or witnesses to the accident; their testimony may help your claim.
- Contact a lawyer immediately: Reach out a skilled agricultural injury lawyer to have your rights and options explained to you.
- Don’t speak to the insurance company by yourself: You may be contacted by an insurance adjuster soon after the accident. Talk to your lawyer before you speak with them, in order to ensure that you don’t say anything that damages your claim.
Insurance companies do not have your best interest at heart. When you hire an attorney, you will have a knowledgeable advocate on your side who can assess your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, identify any additional claims you might have, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Let Our Farm Accident Attorney Fight for You
Attorney Patrick Daniel is well-versed in the complexities of farm accident litigation. He understands how hard agricultural employees work, as well as the pressures workers face when they are injured on the job.
Patrick Daniel Law is committed to providing legal representation that is Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless. We fully evaluate the circumstances of your agricultural injury, develop an individualized plan for success, and fight hard for a favorable outcome.
You don’t have to determine on your own whether you have a compensable case. Speak to a knowledgeable farm accident lawyer for free by calling (713) 999-6666 today. Patrick Daniel Law serves clients in and around Houston, throughout Texas, and nationwide in select cases.