Farm Equipment Accidents
Agriculture is one of the most dangerous fields for workers, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA). In a single recent year, 570 agricultural workers died from on-the-job injuries, at a fatality rate seven times higher than the average rate for all private industry workers. OSHA reports that every day, approximately 243 agricultural workers in the U.S. sustain serious work-related injuries, with five percent of those injuries resulting in permanent impairment.
Tractor overturns are a leading cause of death for farmworkers, according to OSHA. Nearly half (276) of the 570 agricultural worker fatalities in a recent year were the result of vehicle accidents. Farm tractor accidents caused 1,533 deaths between a study period of 2003 to 2011.
If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a farm equipment accident, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney. At Riddle & Brantley, we have more than 160 years of combined experience, Board Certified Workers’ Compensation lawyers, and a bilingual staff. We have helped many people in Raleigh, Jacksonville, Goldsboro, Kinston, and Eastern North Carolina after serious workplace accidents, and we can do the same for you.
Exception for Many Farm Accidents
Unfortunately, Workers’ Compensation does not extend to farm laborers when fewer than ten (10) full time non-seasonal farm laborers are regularly employed by the same employer. In addition, the nature of the laborer’s work determines whether the laborer is a farm laborer rather than the employer’s nature of business. Regardless, some farmers purchase workers compensation coverage for farm laborers even though they are not required. In that circumstance there will be coverage for the accident and injuries under workers compensation.
Most importantly, the injured farm worker can still make a claim against his employer and owner of the farm for any injuries caused by the negligence of another worker or faulty farm equipment. This claim would be handled like other claims outside of workers compensation law.
As you can see, the law applying to accidents and injuries that occur on the farm are very complicated and that is why you need to consult with the lawyers at Riddle and Brantley if you or a loved one is hurt by an accident on the farm.
Types of Farm Accidents
Tractor rollovers are the single deadliest type of farm equipment injury in the U.S., as stated by OSHA. During one twelve-month period, overturns occurred at 3,000 different farm operations. For every tractor fatality, four people suffer non-fatal injuries in tractor rollovers, per OSHA. Workers injured in rollovers of tractors not protected by roll bars averaged 97.8 days of lost farm work.
Power Take-Off (PTO) shafts are responsible for a number of farm equipment injuries. PTOs are drive shafts typically found on tractors for powering separate machines or attachments. A worker’s clothing can get caught in a PTO or associated shafts and joints, and workers can be pulled into the shaft and lose a limb or their lives.
OSHA reports that most farm fatalities and injuries involve farm tractors. Injuries can be caused by incorrect use of steer skidders, hitching a tractor improperly, hair or clothing entanglement in moving parts, or carbon monoxide poisoning. Harvesting equipment added to tractors can change the balance of the equipment and require the operator to remain alert at all times.
OSHA Standards Regarding Farm Safety
OSHA standards regarding farm equipment are designed to reduce the risk of injury or death to agricultural workers. There are many prevention methods, including standard:
When those and other farm safety regulations are ignored, North Carolina agricultural workers pay the price.
How Riddle & Brantley Can Help
At Riddle & Brantley, we are advocates for injured workers and well-versed in the workers’ compensation system. Our accident and injury lawyers have helped many victims of work-related accidents obtain benefits after serious on-the-job injuries, including farm accidents
As discussed above, not all farm equipment accidents are covered by workers’ compensation insurance under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Unless an agricultural employer has 10 or more full-time, non-seasonal agricultural employees, the employer is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, even if you are not covered by workers’ comp, you may be entitled to file a claim against your farm employer to seek to recover compensation for your injuries if your accident was caused by the negligence of another laborer or faulty equipment.
Your best course of action is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer if you have sustained serious injuries or lost a loved one in a farm equipment accident. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation. We can advise you of your legal options and tell you what benefits or compensation you may be entitled to claim.