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Fresno Farming Accident Lawyer


Agriculture is the primary industry in Fresno County. It is also the leading Agricultural-producing county in the United States, according to Western Farm Press. The value of all commodities produced in Fresno increased by nine percent to just over $7 billion in 2014. As you can see, farming and agriculture are a big part of the Fresno community. 

Thousands of people are involved in farming, in some way or another. But there is a hard truth in the farming industry – it is a high safety-risk business with the propensity to leave someone permanently injured. For example, over 240 farmworkers suffer injuries each and every day in the United States. Five percent of those individuals suffer catastrophic, debilitating injuries that prevent them from returning to farming. Farmworkers have a 20 percent higher risk of suffering an injury than other types of work-related injuries, according to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration.

If that was not bad enough, over 110 people under the age of 20 lose their lives each year in farm-related accidents. In 2009, there were over 16,000 children who suffered farm-related injuries. 

Types of Farm-Related Accidents

Below is a brief overview of some of the most common types of farming accidents that may form the basis of taking legal action against the owner of the farm:

  • Falling from a commercial truck, combine, or another vehicle;
  • Falling from a horse;
  • Overturned tractor;
  • Defective machine equipment;
  • Being kicked by a horse, cow, or another animal; and/or
  • Being exposed to toxic chemicals

Overturned tractors are one of the main causes of death for farmworkers. Approximately 90 workers lose their lives each year when a tractor they were in suddenly overturned. It is unfortunate because there are safety measures available that help prevents a tractor from overturning. For example, a Roll-Over Protective Structure is available. This is a cab or frame providing a much safer environment for the operator of a tractor in the event a rollover occurs, according to the University of Illinois. However, less than 60 percent of tractors were equipped with these devices, according to OSHA data.

The video below explains a few things to keep on my mind when working on the farm to stay safe.

Personal Injury Claim or Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you or a loved one was seriously injured on a farm, one of the first things you need to do is determine whether you should pursue financial restitution through a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. There are important differences between these tort laws and those distinctions will influence how you file a claim for financial compensation and what you can reasonably expect to receive by filing a claim.

Both personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims are available with the objective of assisting an injured victim to obtain financial restitution for their harms and losses. But that is where the similarities end. There are key differences in the types of evidence needed to obtain a financial recovery and a stark contrast to the amount of available compensation.

California's Personal Injury Laws

California personal injury laws cover an array of torts including automobile accidents, boating accidents, premises liability, and so forth. Conversely, California workers' compensation law is only available to an injured worker who suffered that injury while on the job.

In order to prevail in a personal injury claim, you must be able to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the negligence of the farm owner, a farm employee, or another third party proximately caused your harms and losses. In contrast, when you file a workers’ compensation claim, no proof of negligence is required. You only need to show that an injury occurred during the course of your employment. For example, a farmworker who suffers a broken leg after falling from a horse and needs to take some time off of work to recuperate can file a workers’ compensation claim, even if the employer was operating the farm in a safe and reasonable manner.

Workers' Compensation

Workers’ compensation sounds like an “easier” system to receive financial restitution for your injuries. This is true. Here is the trade-off – you are hindered in the amount you can recover through a workers’ compensation claim.  An injured worker is generally limited to three types of benefits:

  1. Temporary disability payments to reimburse you for lost income while you are away from the job recovering;
  2. Payment of all related medical expenses; and/or
  3. Permanent disability award if your injuries are so severe that you cannot reasonably expect to return to work ever again.

You are not able to seek reimbursement for noneconomic damages in a workers’ compensation claim. This means you will not receive compensation for your pain, mental anguish, discomfort, emotional distress, and anxiety stemming from the accident.

Recoverable Damages Through a Personal Injury Claim

If your Fresno farm accident lawyer determines you have a viable personal injury claim, you can pursue damages for:

  • Your medical expenses accrued after the accident;
  • Lost wages and recovery of reasonable future earnings, if you are disabled; and
  • The aforementioned noneconomic damages including pain, suffering, emotional stress, and turmoil stemming from the accident.
Filing Workers’ Comp Claim and Personal Injury Claim

It is possible that you have both a viable workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim. For example, there are instances where a worker is injured on the job, and that injury was proximately caused by the negligence of a person, object, or entity not affiliated with the worker’s employer. For example, if you were injured by defective industrial machinery not manufactured by the employer or if there was a heavy equipment accident involving forklifts or similar vehicles caused by someone not affiliated with your employer.

As you can see, a farm accident lawsuit can get complicated since many farms are both a workplace and a dwelling for the farm owner and others. It can get confusing trying to navigate which laws apply to your particular situation. That is where I can help.

Fresno Farm Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Fresno farm accident lawyer. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury in a farm accident, please call our injury attorneys at (559) 377-7676 for free, friendly advice.

We take cases on a contingency fee basis. You pay no fee upfront. We get paid for the successful outcome of your case. There is no obligation to call and talk to us.

We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

See our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and Avvo and our past verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 4.9.21]

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Photo by: ab

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