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Farm and agricultural employees work in one of the most dangerous industries in the country. This industry also comes with a high risk of fatal injuries. A Jersey County farm injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation if you are injured in an agricultural accident.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, in 2021, employees in agricultural, forestry, hunting, and fishing occupations suffered one of the highest fatality rates of any industry. The rate of fatalities across all U.S. industries was 3.6 per 100,000 full-time employees, while the rate in those four industries was 20 per 100,000 employees.
Farmers, farmhands, and other agricultural workers complete hard labor in many difficult weather conditions, using dangerous and potentially deadly equipment. Their work often results in severe and catastrophic injuries. Injuries in the farming industry frequently impact young people and children, both those who are employees and those who live on the farm or are visiting the location.
If you were injured on a farm, you need the experience of a Jersey County farm injury lawyer. If you are an employee, you may be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim. If you are not able to recover your damages this way, a lawyer can review the cause of your injury or illness and determine if there are other ways for you to obtain compensation, such as a personal injury claim.
Injured people who are not employees may also be able to file a personal injury claim. If the negligence of another party caused your injury, condition, or illness, you may be able to cover medical costs, lost income, and other financial damages.
Farm and agricultural work involves a lot of hard labor and the operation of dangerous machines and equipment. Injuries may be caused by a failure of training, a lack of safety precautions, or machine malfunctions. These injuries can be minor, but they can also result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities for farm employees. Employees commonly suffer from injuries such as:
These injuries can require significant medical care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, surgeries, and other expensive healthcare. They can also change your entire life, disabling you and preventing you from earning a living. An attorney could help you determine how you can obtain compensation for an injury through a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim. This can cover financial losses from medical costs as well as full or partial coverage of lost income during your period of recovery.
Agricultural work involves potentially dangerous machines and hazardous materials. Accidents can happen even when precautions are taken, but they are much more likely when employees are not properly trained or provided with proper safety gear. They are also more prone to occur when employers do not ensure that safety regulations are met throughout the farm. Some of the most common causes of accidents and long-term injuries include:
There are many reasons why farming equipment can cause accidents, including:
Tractors and other equipment can overturn and roll onto an employee, and farm vehicles can crash into each other. Equipment malfunction can result in employees falling off equipment, sparks, or electrocution injuries. Machine accidents can result in the amputation of limbs, crushing injuries, severe lacerations, and other injuries.
Farm employees work with many hazardous and toxic chemicals. Employees should be trained on how to handle these materials and be provided with the safety equipment necessary to limit exposure. Long-term exposure to pesticides, grain elevator chemicals, and other substances can cause skin conditions and rashes, short-term illnesses, and respiratory illnesses. Exposure may also result in other developmental illnesses, like cancer and birth defects.
Agricultural work largely occurs outside, and farms typically do not have shade. Farm workers may work for many hours in hot weather and sunny conditions. This can cause:
Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, especially to older employees.
Employees should have the opportunity to take breaks, drink water, and rest in the shade. Employers are not allowed to discourage employees from taking these breaks.
Agricultural work includes repeated actions and tasks, potentially for many hours a day. Repetitive daily or hourly tasks, as well as repeated motions, such as crouching and lifting, can result in muscle strain. Repetitive motion injuries are developmental conditions and can cause severe and chronic pain from muscle strains in the back, arms, shoulders, and hands.
Farm employees may do their work in high locations, such as:
Without proper safety precautions, falls from even several feet can cause severe trauma to the head and neck. More significant falls can result in catastrophic injuries or fatal injuries.
Many farm employees work around silos, which may hold grain and other products made on the farm. Individuals can be trapped in silos that do not have sufficient ventilation. They can also fall into full grain silos, which often results in grain entrapment, causing suffocation and death. Grain collapse can also cause employees to become entrapped in grain silos.
Farms with livestock means that employees are at risk from injuries such as bites, crushing, and other harm. Additionally, most farms have insects and other pests that can bite or sting workers. Although these are typically minor injuries, they can be severe with sufficient exposure or if proper care is not taken with the injury.
If you are involved in a farm accident, there are several steps you should take to protect your physical health and your legal rights.
If you are severely injured, and in an emergency situation, you should get medical care immediately. If your injury does not require urgent attention, you can report the injury and document it before obtaining medical care. Even if you think you weren’t injured, it is still useful for a successful claim to have medical documentation. Additionally, certain injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, may be difficult to spot if you are not a medical professional.
If you are an employee who was injured, it’s important to inform your employer of the accident as soon as possible. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, you have 45 days to report the accident after it occurs. If your work-related injury is a developmental disease or condition, such as from chemical exposure or repetitive motion, you must inform your employer as soon as you are aware of the condition and its connection to your employment.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you are only required to give your employer oral notice. However, it can be beneficial to provide written notice, as this can be useful evidence in a claim if an employer or their insurance provider claims that they were not given notice.
When you talk with your employer, you should also obtain a list of their workers’ compensation insurance provider’s approved medical professionals. This is where you can receive your medical care.
If an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, there may still be other options for covering your damages.
If you are able to, take pictures of:
Write down your experience of the incident or the work that led to a developmental condition. If there are coworker or non-employee witnesses to an accident, note their names and contact information. Obtain medical documentation from the provider who looks at your illness or injury.
All this information may be essential in proving a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim and determining what damages you are owed.
When you receive healthcare and a treatment plan for an injury or illness, it is important to follow the guidelines you are provided with. If you don’t follow a treatment plan, you may lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits or benefits from a claim. The insurance provider may claim that your condition would have improved and that you would not need damage coverage if you had followed the treatment plan.
If you have not already, bring your case to an experienced farm injury attorney. They can help you file a workers’ compensation claim and protect your rights. If you are not an employee or cannot file for workers’ compensation, an attorney can guide you through your other options for covering medical costs, lost income, lost earning capacity, and other damages.
Many farm injuries result in lifelong impairment and disability. For many individuals, particularly farm employees, this prevents them from returning to their field of work. It’s essential to determine the most effective way to recover those damages and find financial stability.
Under state workers’ compensation laws, all covered employees can receive compensation for injuries or conditions that are the result of their work duties. A successful workers’ compensation claim does not require the employee to prove fault for the accident or injury. If an employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance by state law and does not, an employee can file a civil personal injury claim against their employer.
The workers’ compensation insurance system financially protects employees and employers. Employees have some financial certainty in the event of an injury, and employers can protect themselves from civil claims. Workers’ compensation benefits may cover:
Not all agricultural employers in Illinois are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employers are not required to have this insurance if they employed fewer than 400 total working days of labor per quarter of the prior calendar year. Although some may still carry insurance, others may not. This means that if you are an injured employee, you must find other ways to cover your damages. These may include state uninsured workers’ compensation or a personal injury claim against a non-employer at-fault party.
A third party at fault for an injury may include the manufacture of a defective product or a negligent employee. When a third party is at fault for the accident, employees could file for both workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim, depending on the circumstances.
Filing a personal injury claim can be more difficult than filing a workers’ compensation claim, as another party must be found at fault for the claim to be successful. However, a personal injury claim may be able to recover more damages than a workers’ compensation claim. These include:
Personal injury claims include noneconomic damages, which do not have a clear cost but are still legally recognized damages. Workers’ compensation claims do not provide for noneconomic damages.
When you are suffering from a catastrophic farm injury, you need to take time to recover. Unfortunately, there is a limited window to file a workers’ comp or personal injury claim, and it is essential that you file one sooner rather than later. When you work with a qualified farm injury attorney, they can manage your claim as you rest and heal.
Joshua R. Evans, Attorney at Law, has worked for years to protect injured employees and individuals throughout their claims. Contact our firm to learn how we can help you recover the damages you deserve after a farm injury.