Workers’ Compensation for Farm Accidents
Farm accidents are far more common that one might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in which to work. In 1990, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), began focusing on farm worker safety and devised plans to address the high risks of injuries to which farm workers are exposed on a daily basis.
What are the main causes of on-the-job injuries to farm workers?
There are a variety of hazards to workers on the farm, including toxic chemicals, dust, extreme noise, sun and heat, electrical hazards, machinery and vehicle hazards. These hazards have been responsible for many injuries, illnesses, and deaths among farm workers throughout the nation, including 374 farmworker deaths in 2012. This figure amounts to just over 20 deaths per 100,000. Many of these deaths were caused by a workplace accident involving an overturned tractor. CDC data also shows that, on average, 167 farm workers are injured each day, causing lost time from work and, in some cases, permanent disability.
Many of these serious workplace injuries suffered by farm workers were also preventable, had proper safety measures been followed. For example, a tractor equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS) can prevent injuries. However, less than 60 percent of all tractors used on American farms have a ROPS.
As our farm accident lawyers at the Attorney Injury Group know, many farmworkers who are injured on the job are hesitant to report some accidents and even more hesitant to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer for fear of retaliation.
In reality, it is very important to promptly report any injuries or illness to your employer and make sure an incident report is generated. It is also important to seek immediate medical attention when necessary. It is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, and, if that should happen, you should immediately discuss the situation with your lawyer, so he or she can take appropriate action.
It is also important to understand that an on-the-job injury or work related illness does not have to be your employer’s fault in order for you to collect workers’ compensation benefits. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that if you were injured on the job or became ill due to your job, you should be able to collect benefits. This is different from a traditional civil lawsuit, in which a proof of negligence is required to win a verdict or, in many cases, reach a fair and appropriate financial settlement.
If an on-the-job accident results in a farm worker’s death, it will be up to the family (normally the surviving spouse) to file a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. Death benefits can be paid monthly or in the form of a lump sum benefits award. These benefits are designed to pay for medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost wages for the money the decedent would have earned had he or she not been injured.
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