At Lein Law Offices, we understand that the vast Wisconsin Farming Industry can be a dangerous place to work for farmers, migrant workers, and seasonal workers. Farming is one of the most dangerous industries in Wisconsin, but as a farmer, you need to be aware of the potential dangers on your farm. Farm workers are at an increased risk for injury when compared to other occupations because of their environment and work hazards. At Lein Law Offices, we know that our experience with personal injury law is going to be valuable in helping you with your case. Give us a call at (715) 403-5045 or fill out the form for a free consultation.
Farming & Farm Equipment Accidents in Wisconsin
Working on a farm has a rich history in Wisconsin. Agricultural work is often rewarding and many people in Wisconsin benefit from the farming industry, but many workers on farms become injured every year. Wisconsin has experienced a steady decline in the number of farms, but the workforce continues to grow as farmers try to get their crops harvested before winter sets in.
Farm workers are exposed to the elements, they are also exposed to chemicals and this combination of rugged landscape and heavy machinery can prove to be a hazard and sometimes even deadly.
In 2020, the total workforce on Wisconsin Farms is expected to be over 16,000 people. Farmers and farm workers are facing increased danger due to the increase in machinery being used for farming. In the last decade there has been exponential growth in motorized equipment being used from tractors to combines and modern technology can sometimes pose an even greater risk than traditional methods of agriculture.
The Equipment Used on a Farm Can Be Dangerous
We are seeing a rise in the amount of farm equipment being used on farms across Wisconsin, but with increased machinery comes an increase in risk. The Agriculture Census shows that the number of tractors and combines has been steadily increasing and this trend is expected to continue. There was a 7% increase in the total number of tractors and combines used on Wisconsin farms during the past 10 years with over 25,000 of these machines in operation.
Farmers are using larger machinery than ever before to get their harvest done before winter sets in. Tractors that range from a half-ton up to 7 tons are being used for farm work. The number of tractors being used on farms is increasing by about 1.3% per year, but during the past decade, combine use increased by about 2.6%. This means that there has been an increase in the amount of larger machinery being used to plow and harvest crops across the state.
A large tractor can weigh over two tons and can quickly cause damage to anything it comes in contact with. A tractor that is moving at even a low speed has the power to crush farm buildings and equipment as well as injure or kill people on the property.
Injuries from Farm Machinery & Tractor Accidents Can be Severe
Farm tractors are being used more frequently each year, and with these larger machines comes an increased risk for injury. Injuries that occur from farming equipment can be devastating and can even result in death if the injuries are severe enough.
In 2014 there were 16,170 tractor related accidents that resulted in over 5,700 reported incidents of serious injury. Tractor rollovers accounted for more than half of these accidents and injuries. Rollovers can be caused by improper tractor maintenance, overloading the machine or driving too fast for the conditions. These are all factors that can result in a catastrophic accident.
Many tractor related accidents occur because of human error, but more serious incidents occur when machinery malfunctions. Equipment manufacturers have been held liable for product defects in the past and they have also been held liable when their equipment is improperly maintained.
The Farm Safety Act of 2012 recognizes that farm machinery has a unique purpose in the agricultural industry and certain requirements are put into place to reduce the number of accidents that occur because of faulty products or negligent maintenance. If you become injured by a piece of farming equipment or a tractor, then you may be entitled to compensation.
Injuries Caused by Heavy Machinery are Severe
The biggest concern for farmers and farm workers alike is injury caused by machinery. These injuries can range from minor scrapes to amputation or death, but the most common reason for a serious hospital visit after a farming accident it due to a crushing, compressional or puncture wound.
The most common machinery related injury experienced by farmers in 2015 was due to crush injuries that resulted from a rollover accident or getting caught between the combine and a stationary object. These types of accidents can happen when a farmer is moving equipment from one part of their property to another. If your pants are caught on the machine, then you can be dragged and trapped before being caught between the combine and some stationary object.
Compressional injuries that are also commonly caused by machinery include crush or step-in accidents that occur with large tractor tires. If you are unfortunate enough to be run over by a large piece of farming equipment, then most likely one of your lower body limbs will be crushed or punctured.
Lacerations or cuts to the skin from farm machinery can also result in a significant amount of blood loss and are often serious enough to require emergency medical care. If you have been injured by a piece of farm equipment, then you may need surgery and extensive reconstructive procedures to recover from your injuries.
Head Injuries are Common in Farming Accidents
Persons who work on farms or are visiting a farm are at risk of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) from farming machinery. These can be traumatic injuries that affect your memory, speech and the ability to control movement. The most common cause of a TBI is due to being struck in the head by a flying object, but TBIs are also caused by blunt force trauma.
The most recent data on fatal farm accidents shows that over half of the people who were killed by farm machinery had a head injury and many of them died instantly. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury from a farming accident, then your recovery process will likely take longer than other injuries.
Severe Burns are Common Farming Accident Injuries
Burns due to farm equipment accidents can be caused by machinery that heats up while it is in use and catches clothing on fire. Burns can also occur when persons are working with fires and get too close, or by chemical burns that result from chemicals or gasoline hitting the skin.
In 2015, there were burns reported that were caused by machinery and grain augers. The severity of a burn injury can range from first degree to third degree depending on the depth of the heat transfer in your skin. First and second degree burns generally heal themselves within several months, but if you sustain a third-degree burn then it may be necessary to reconstructive procedures, skin grafts and plastic surgery if your wound is severe enough.
Farmers Can be Legally Liable for Accidents Caused by Farm Equipment
If you are injured in a farming accident that has been caused by faulty machinery or negligent maintenance then the farmer may be legally liable for any medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering that you have to endure. A common misconception is that farmers are not liable if they are using their equipment for farming purposes, but in reality the lack of maintenance or knowing your machinery is defective can be grounds for liability.
If a farmer’s equipment has been involved in multiple accidents, then you may need to prove recklessness on behalf of the farmer due to knowing about the faulty condition of their machinery.
Farm equipment is supposed to be regularly serviced and maintained, otherwise there is a risk that it can cause injuries or fatalities when persons are operating machinery that has not been properly maintained. If you have been injured in a farming accident, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to find out if you have a case.
A second class of personal injury cases that are very common on farms involves falls from ladders and roofs. If there is no way to access your roof or work area safely, then an employer is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide fall protection for their workers. Farm workers who are injured when they fall from unsafe work areas can receive over $300,000 in compensation depending on the severity and extent of their injuries.
If you have been involved in an accident with a piece of farm machinery or fallen from a ladder or roof then contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible because there are strict time limits that an attorney has to file a lawsuit.
Wisconsin Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases
In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years from the time of your injuries. With that said, if you were injured on a farm and can no longer perform the duties which your sole career relies upon, there is the possibility that workers’ compensation may still be awarded any number of years after your accident. So if you were injured on a farm in anyway, at any time, and those injuries have affected your ability earn a wage. Then you may be eligible for work comp even years after the incident.
Farming Equipment Malfunction Issues
There have been a number of machine malfunction related lawsuits that have resulted in settlements large enough to cover medical expenses and other costs associated with the accident. These awards can also include punitive damages for manufacturers who are found liable for product defects. The most common tractor related lawsuit claim is that the manufacturer did not provide proper warnings on the label or with the machine itself about potential failures.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also identified some of the risks farmers face when operating these machines. Some of these hazards include being thrown from the tractor, running over animal waste that is not properly disposed, and using machinery while it is in a raised position. These are just a few of the many risks farmers have to deal with while utilizing their farming machinery.
You can review some of the most frequently recalled items on the NHTSA website to get a better understanding of the dangers that exist in our day-to-day lives. You should also inspect your tractor and other equipment regularly to ensure that you have taken all the proper safety precautions to avoid an accident.
Heavy Machinery Injuries from Working on a Farm
It is clear that tractors and heavy machinery can cause significant injuries, but the most common injury experienced on a farm or in an agricultural-related accident is a slip, trip or fall. These types of accidents happen to adults just as much as they do children and seniors and anyone can be injured when food processing equipment malfunctions or someone steps into a hole or hole in the grass. The next most common accidents experienced by farmers involve a person being crushed by farm equipment or falling into a grain silo.
If you have been injured on the job in a farming related accident, then you should seek medical care immediately. You will also need to speak with an injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have a valid claim against your employer or a third party manufacturer.
Working on a farm can be dangerous and you should always use the proper safety equipment for your job to help ensure that an accident does not occur. You may also need to speak with a legal representative about how you will be compensated for medical bills and other expenses related to your agricultural industry accident.
These types of injuries can also result in lost wages, time and even days missed from work that could take a toll on you and your family’s budget. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you are properly compensated for these losses as part of your claim. In many cases, these types of farm equipment injuries can result in significant medical expenses which can affect your ability to work for a period of time following the accident. It is also common that an individual who suffers from a serious injury resulting from agricultural equipment use may need to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Many people are not aware of the fact that you can receive compensation for these types of injuries for your physical, emotional and financial losses. They are often caused by defective equipment or faulty procedures that some believe is not covered in Wisconsin state law or by the owner’s insurance policy.
These claims can also be filed against a manufacturer or distributor to help get you the compensation you deserve if someone else was at fault for your injuries.
Do I Need a Farm Equipment Injury Attorney in Wisconsin?
If you have sustained injuries as a result of an accident involving farm equipment, liability laws can be very complicated, and an attorney with experience dealing with agricultural-related accidents is needed to help ensure your needs are met. If you or someone you love has been injured while working on the farm or while working with farm equipment, you need to speak with a Wisconsin farm equipment injury attorney as soon as possible.
A lawyer will review your case and find out if you have grounds for legal action against others responsible. If necessary, they will negotiate a settlement on your behalf in order to ensure that you are properly compensated for medical bills, lost wages, other financial losses and more.
Consult with a Farm Accident Injuries Attorney Now
If you or a family member has been injured by faulty farm equipment, then contact our law offices today. Our attorneys handle cases caused by farming equipment and other heavy machinery just like yours.
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