Farming is one of the most hazardous industries to work in.
Farms can range from small, family farms, to huge million dollar farms focused on mass production. When you work on a farm you are constantly surrounded by heavy machinery, toxic chemicals, livestock, loud noise, dust, and sun, among other potentially dangerous factors that can put your well being at risk and create health hazards. According to OSHA there are more than 2.3 million farms in the U.S., and about 3.1 million men and women find employment on these farms. Around 120,000 injuries occur on farms every year and about 1,300 of these injuries are fatal.
Tractor accidents are the number one cause of fatality on farms. Farm equipment and machinery in general can be very dangerous if the proper protective gear is not used and regular equipment maintenance is not performed. Also, younger workers and older workers are more susceptible to injury on farms. About 40% of serious farm accidents could have been prevented by using the proper protective equipment, like tractor seat belts.
If you work on a farm and are injured, you might wonder whether or not your injury will be covered under workers’ compensation and if you can file a claim. While some farm injuries are covered, others are not under Missouri workers’ compensation laws. So you will need to familiarize yourself with the type of farm you work on. Employers of farm labor are exempt from needing to have workers’ compensation coverage, but farm employers of non-farm labor must carry workers’ comp insurance if they have five or more employees. A laborer counts as an employee when he or she works for 5.5 consecutive work days per year.
What does this mean for you?
This means that if you are injured on a labor farm you are not entitled to workers’ compensation but you can file a personal injury case in civil court, since the injury will not be governed by workers’ comp laws.
It also means that farm injury cases are not always as straightforward as they appear, and may require the expertise of a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney or a Missouri farm accident attorney.
Workers’ comp laws are ever-changing, therefore navigating the system can be difficult. For instance, recently the Court of Appeal in Missouri made a decision that changed the way occupational diseases are covered. They held that occupational injuries, like carpal tunnel, mesothelioma, or cubital tunnel syndrome, are not exclusively covered under workers’ comp. This means that a worker who suffers from an occupational injury can choose between filing a workers’ comp claim with the Division of Worker’s Compensation or filing a civil lawsuit to recover damages.
Even though workers’ comp does not cover pain and suffering, if your injury is covered by workers’ comp insurance, you do not have to prove that your employer acted negligently or amass evidence as you would in a civil suit. With workers’ comp, there is more certainty that you will receive benefits for your injury, than if you were to file a lawsuit and leave the decision up to a jury or a judge.
Missouri Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured in a farm accident in Missouri, contact a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your case and determine what options you have. Your attorney can walk you through the process of properly filing a workers’ comp claim so that you can get the full benefits to which you are entitled, or if your injury is not covered under workers’ comp, they can guide you through the process of taking civil action.
The Lawyers at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann have a strong history of helping injured Missouri workers get the medical attention and financial compensation they are entitled to. If you are injured and want to ensure that your rights are protected call us at (314) 361-4300 or complete our Online Case Evaluation Form.
Workers & Industry
photo credit: Lee Cannon