Alabama Farm Injury Lawyer | Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C.

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Alabama Farm Injury Lawyer

Farms, even when operated safely and efficiently, require difficult work with potentially dangerous machinery and equipment on varied terrain. If you were injured in a farm accident, you should contact an experienced farm injury lawyer from Belt, Bruner & Barnett, P.C., at (205 933-1500. We can review your situation, including whether you may have the right to workers’ compensation or will need to pursue a financial recovery another way.

There are 44,000 farming operations in Alabama encompassing over 8 million acres, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2021 Alabama state agriculture overview. These farms raise cattle, goats, hogs, chickens, and more. They produce milk, beef, hay, tobacco, corn, cotton, and many other types of meat, fruits, vegetables, and other products. Running these operations requires thousands of employees, independent contractors, and volunteers. Some workers are full-time year-round, while others are seasonal.

Common Farm Accidents

Farming is a work-intensive industry. You not only put your body through the wringer, but you also are in close contact with heavy machinery, vehicles, pesticides, and other additives and chemicals every time you work. All of these factors can quickly become hazards and increase the risk of common farm accidents, such as:

  • Tractor and other large vehicle accidents, including overturn, run over, backup, and entanglement incidents
  • Falls
  • Being struck by a falling object
  • Being struck by machinery
  • Entanglement with machinery
  • Entrapment in a silo or another confined space
  • Electrocution
  • Chemical exposures and spills
  • Toxic gas exposure
  • Fires and explosions
  • Animal attacks and other related accidents

You May Not Be Covered by Workers’ Compensation

Your journey to potentially gain compensation will depend on whether you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance through your employer or whether you will need to pursue financial assistance in another way.

Whether you have workers’ compensation may depend on your work status, whether you are an employee or contractor, your type of employment, and the size of your employer. Under Alabama law, if you are an independent contractor, you may not have workers’ compensation, whether the business carries it or not. Alabama also does not require businesses employing fewer than five workers to carry insurance or cover farm laborers.

Unfortunately, all of these nuances to workers’ compensation coverage mean you might not have a right to workers’ comp benefits. However, your employer may have elected to provide workers’ compensation insurance. Speak with your employer and our work injury lawyers to determine if you are or should be covered.

When Workers’ Comp Is an Option

If you injured at work, tell your employer or a supervisor immediately. In the case of an obvious accident, your employer likely has actual notice of your injuries. However, if your employer does not have immediate actual notice, you should tell it within five days of the injury. However, in some circumstances, you may have up to 90 days to inform.

Once you notify your employer, it should notify its insurance carrier. Either it or the insurer has forms to fill out and provide to the state. If your claim is approved, you will have the right to have your reasonable medical expenses paid and receive a portion of your lost wages. You may also have the right to temporary or permanent partial or total disability payments.

However, if your claim is denied, you should contact one of our farm injury lawyers. We will help you file an appeal with the Alabama Department of Labor Workers’ Compensation Division.

Employer or Third-Party Liability

If you know that you are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance but were hurt in a farm accident, contact us immediately. We will investigate your situation and advise you on your potential avenues to compensation, including whether your employer or a third party may be liable for a personal injury claim.

You might have the option to file a personal injury claim against your employer if it was negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmful toward you. Negligence can include failing to properly train workers, provide adequate supervision, obey federal and state health and safety regulations, provide safe equipment and personal protective gear, and any activity that leads to an unsafe environment.

It is also possible that your injuries suffered in a farm accident are the fault of someone other than your employer. If a coworker or independent contractor caused the accident, contact us today to learn more about filing a third-party personal injury claim. In this case, you will need evidence that the other party was negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmed you.

During a personal injury claim against your employer or a third party, you can seek:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost income
  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability

What Constitutes a Farm Vehicle?

According to the NHTSA, farm equipment means any vehicle that is “exclusively used as an implement of husbandry.” Generally speaking, an implement of husbandry is any vehicle designed solely for agricultural, horticultural, or livestock-raising purposes. This can include both self-propelled and towed equipment such as a farm tractor, plow, or cultivator.

In Alabama, farm vehicles are exempt from many of the traffic laws that apply to other motorists. However, Alabama law does require any farm vehicles designed for speeds of 25 mph or less to display a triangular red-and-orange slow-moving vehicle sign (SMV) whenever they are traveling on public roads.

Farm Vehicle Accident Data

According to data from the National Safety Council, there are approximately 15,000 collisions each year in the U.S. involving farm vehicles, and these accidents are five times more likely to produce a fatality than other types of motor vehicle crashes.

The most common types of collisions between farm equipment and motor vehicles are:

  • Left-turn accidents
  • Rear-end accidents
  • Passing accidents

Although accidents between motor vehicles and farm equipment are certainly more common on rural roads, they can happen anywhere. In fact, an analysis of farm equipment crash data from 2005-2010 revealed that about 70 percent of accidents occur in rural areas and 30 percent occur in urban areas.

Dangers of Farm Vehicles on Public Roadways

With nearly 43,000 farms and 8.9 million acres of farmland across the state, agricultural-related vehicles are commonplace on Alabama’s roadways. Farm vehicles are difficult to navigate because they are equipped with large machinery, slow-moving, and not designed for highway travel.

Sharing the road with farm equipment poses several safety concerns for other drivers. Those include:

  • Differences in speed between farm vehicles and motor vehicles.
  • Farm vehicles are often so wide that they extend over the center line, which can obscure the vision of other motorists.
  • Inexperienced operators of farm vehicles may be unfamiliar with how to signal intended driving maneuvers, properly secure loads, and handle the swaying effects of heavy tows.
  • Insufficient lights, reflectors, or signage can make farm vehicles difficult for other drivers to see.
  • Driving too fast can cause farm vehicles to roll over or jack-knife, particularly if they are carrying a heavy load.
  • Farm vehicles often travel on two-lane rural roads, which can make passing dangerous for other drivers.

The poor visibility and environmental conditions on rural roads can increase the likelihood of farm vehicle accidents and contributes to more severe injuries. In addition, crashes involving agricultural equipment on rural roads are more likely to result in fatalities than urban crashes.

Let Our Farm Injury Lawyers in Alabama Help You

Our farm injury lawyers at Belt, Bruner & Barnett, P.C., have more than 65 years of experience. We have helped individuals injured in various work-related accidents gain compensation through workers’ compensation or personal injury suits. Whether we have to work with your employer, an insurer, the Department of Labor, or in front of a judge or jury, we will aggressively fight for your right to financial recovery.

Call us today at (205) 933-1500 to schedule a free consultation.

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