Yuba City Farm Accident Lawyer

Yuba Sutter Farm Accident LawyerYuba City in Sutter County has a rich agricultural heritage, dating back to 1848. From Thompson seedless grapes to Philips Canning Cling Peaches and the plums chosen by Sunsweet, the largest dried fruit processing plant in the world, the sunny, warm farmland has become synonymous with delectable foods. Other popular crops include beans, rice, walnuts, alfalfa, melons, tomatoes, hay, and almonds. Yuba City is served by two major roadways: California State Route 99 and California State Route 20.

In this article:

The Dangers of Bringing Food to the World

Farmers work hard to supply the country and the world with food. To do this, they face many hazards every day. Farming is one of the most dangerous jobs, and out of every 100,000 farmers, over 5,000 are injured, and 20 are killed every year while working.

Complex Hazards - Complex Lawsuits

As a farm accident lawyer in Yuba City, I’ve helped resident farm workers with a complex group of hazards that threaten their well-being and their life since 1982. Not only is the risk of injury high, but after an accident, farmers often are unable to perform the rigorous work that is needed due to their injuries. After building a life, they can see it slip away as they and their families face immense financial loss.  

My experience with a full range of agricultural hazards from toxic chemical exposure to farm machinery accidents makes it possible for me to help those suffering from farming injuries. I leave no stone unturned as I search for the reasons an injury occurred and fight to obtain the compensation my clients deserve. 

Farm Accident Types

Many types of farming accidents entitle an injured worker to make a claim for damages if negligence was involved. Some of the most common are:

  • Falls: In the course of their work, many farmers need to climb, whether it is on a tractor, a tree, or scaling a storage bin. When they do this, the risk of falling is increased. Depending on the height, severe trauma can result, such as head injuries and broken bones. Safety measures are not always used or provided. This increases liability. 
  • Equipment-related accidents: Accidents with different types of farming equipment can cause serious and deadly injuries. In some cases, the farmer’s hair, clothes, or limbs can become entangled in machinery, leading to loss of life. An example of this occurs when a farmer is drilling post holes using an auger, which is a rotating blade often driven by power take-offs. According to the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) Surveillance System, in the nine years between 1980 and 1989, 346 farmhands died, with 112 caught in a power take-off. Also, between 1982 and 1986, approximately 10,000 injuries occurred due to entanglement. Of the 10,000 farm workers who were not killed, over 800 lost an appendage.
  • Harvesting Injuries: Harvest time is busy for any farmer. Compile that with shorter days and colder weather and the need to harvest before the crop is ruined, and you’ll understand some of the reasons for accidents. All farmworkers must become experienced with harvesting equipment before the season arrives. 
  • Tractor accidents: Tractors are extremely heavy, and rollovers are common. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 44 percent of all fatal accidents involve an overturned tractor. Preserving evidence after a rollover is important when investigating the accident in terms of negligence and liability.
  • Defective machinery: Defective farm equipment occurs when the manufacturer takes short-cuts or makes a mistake in its design or production. In such cases, there is little a farmer can do to prevent the accident. However, legally this leaves the manufacturer open to a product liability claim. In California, the injured party is not required to prove negligence, a costly maneuver. Instead, it is necessary to show that the equipment did not perform as it should despite being used as it was intended. 
  • Inadequate lighting: Many times, harvesting is done in the dark. This enhances the risk of an accident. Using artificial lights is one way to prevent injuries. 
  • Storage bin entrapment: Storage bin entrapment is linked to numerous fatalities on farms. This often preventable accident is frequently due to safety violations. These accidents happen quickly, and within four seconds, the average man will be trapped up to his knees. Getting free after this point is impossible on your own. Even with help, it takes 600 pounds of force to free someone who is chest-deep in the grain. Once the person’s chest is immersed in the grain, it becomes challenging to breathe, causing asphyxiation. 
  • Motor vehicle accidents: Accidents involving slow-moving farm vehicles with cars on a public road are common in rural areas. Both motorists and those taking farming equipment on the roadway need to take special precautions in such cases. 
  • Pesticide-related accidents: Pesticides used on farms can cause injury to farmworkers. Exposure can be short or long-term. Some pesticides such as glyphosate are suspected carcinogens, and a link between their use and Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been established. Pesticides can also cause a rash, breathing difficulties, and “farmer’s lung.” The latter is a hypersensitivity pneumonitis that is often linked to mold spores or hay dust.
  • Toxic fumes: Gas fumes are released from conventional or open-ended silos. The most abundant gas is nitrogen dioxide. It comes from the intra-silo nitrous oxide produced by the crop, which combines with oxygen in the air to make nitrogen dioxide. Inhaling even a minute amount can result in serious damage to the lungs. This is referred to as silo-filler’s disease. Within hours, the lungs become inflamed and filled with fluid. Even if the person survives the first onslaught of the disease, there may be a relapse within two to six weeks. It is essential to stay out of a recently filled silo for three weeks and to be aware of the tell-tale smell of bleach due to the gas. 
  • Fires: Fire, especially in California, destroys farmland. Farmers should have a plan to prevent or battle fires. Some of the chief reasons for farm-related fires are from faulty heating and electrical equipment and smoking. Improperly using and storing flammable liquids and lightning are other causes.
  • Electrocution: Overhead utility lines cause electrocutions. Farm equipment such as augers can be raised to various heights. Moving the auger without lowering it could result in contact with a utility line, causing electrocution. 
  • Animal-related accidents: Animal-related injuries can cause significant harm and are frequently found on farms. Approximately 70 percent are caused by horses and cattle. 
  • Heat-related injuries: Farmers often labor in direct sunlight, and this activity causes heat-related problems. Overheating can cause many issues, including dizziness, cramps, heart problems, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or heat stroke. Heat can be riskier for older workers and sometimes requires hospitalization.
  • Suffocation: This is usually linked to silos. However, farm buildings housing chemicals may cause breathing difficulties.
  • Crushed extremities: Injuries to extremities are common on farms. A large number involve catching the extremity in a piece of farm equipment. 
Rules for Slow Moving Farming Vehicles

Farm equipment moves slowly and must carry a slow-moving vehicle sign to alert other motorists to use care. A few safety tips motorists can use when driving in rural areas are:

  • If you see a tractor or other type of farm equipment moving over, chances are good that the driver is attempting to give you room. However, they may be about to turn left. Be sure before you attempt to pass.
  • Refrain from passing if you are within 100 feet of a railroad crossing or in a no-pass zone.
  • Use extra care around farm equipment since it will take up more room than most vehicles.
  • Never tailgate since farm equipment drivers may need to stop more often. 
  • If you are driving in a farming area, make sure you have enough time to get where you are going. The likelihood you will encounter a slow-moving farm vehicle on the road is high, especially at different times during the day. 
  • Farm equipment drivers will often attempt to pull over to give you room to pass. However, unlike other motor vehicles, it takes the driver a while to do this. Be patient.
Safety Tips for Farm Workers

Farmers should take the following precautions to keep themselves and their workers safe:

  • It is crucial to maintain the equipment used on the farm. Many serious injuries and deaths are due to outdated and improperly serviced equipment. Older equipment may lack safety features that are common on newer ones. Check to see if older equipment can be retrofitted with more modern safety features.
  • Grain bin accidents are not only common but also often fatal. It is critical to have a plan workers can follow. Workers should be aware of the dangers of grain bins and be trained in avoiding the hazards associated with them. Have a safety system in place, and make sure there is always an observer present on the outside of the bin in the event an accident happens.
  • Take care that workers do not become dehydrated, and have snacks on hand to boost their energy during the day. 
  • Make sure workers have cell phones or walkie talkies with them, so others will know where they are stationed. 
  • Keep chemicals used on the farm in their original containers. Ensure that workers are familiar with issues surrounding chemical use and how to handle them.
  • Ensure that workers understand how over-the-counter and medical prescriptions affect them when they are operating farm equipment. 

The following video by the National Farmers Union provides some basic safety guidelines that can help prevent accidents and keep you safe while working on the farm.

Rights of Farm Workers

Farmworkers have the same right to collect damages when they are involved in a farming accident like any other injured person. However, the California farming system does not often provide that, and workers go uncompensated when injured. About 77 percent of all injuries are not reported to government agencies responsible for tracking workplace problems. 

Whether the accident was reported or not, farmworkers frequently do not file a lawsuit against the property owner to recover damages. This leaves the worker and his or her family, bearing the brunt of the financial costs associated with the injuries. The help of a farm accident attorney in Yuba City can help those injured reclaim financial damages. 

Rider on Federal Bill Bars OSHA From Inspecting Small Farms

OSHA is barred from inspecting farms with 10 or fewer outside employees by virtue of a rider attached to the OSHA appropriations bill in 1976. This rider has been attached ever since that time. Since 93 percent of farms in the United States meet this employment criterion, the lack of OSHA enforcement and guidance is widespread on small farms. In California, while OSHA is not able to enter the property or inspect why a farmworker died, state agencies can do inspections. Nonetheless, workers are left without support in terms of farm hazard safety protection. 

A farmworker needs to have the insight and guidance an experienced Yuba City farm injury lawyer can provide. The attorney will know where to look to see if problems existed before an accident and what, if any, changes were made to prevent injuries. 

How a Farm Accident Lawyer in Yuba City Can Help

Farming is a dangerous occupation, and workers are routinely injured, sometimes fatally. Due to problems with collecting compensation in a farm accident, it is essential to let your employer know you were hurt immediately and to contact a personal injury lawyer. At my law firm, we send our investigators to the site quickly before evidence can be cleared. 

Once they arrive, the investigators look for reasons the accident happened and question other employees who may have witnessed it. They also ask to see records of prior accidents and whether the employee was trained to do the job. They also check to see if the equipment is defective.

Our investigators will also reach out to state agencies that might have inspected the farm previously or check the number of accidents that happened on the farm in the past. We examine the equipment to see if it has been maintained and whether safety precautions have been taken. If the accident involved a motor vehicle/farm equipment collision, we look to see who is liable for the accident by using auto accident reconstruction techniques.

Once the evidence is compiled, it is given to our lawyers to build a strong case for our client. We work hard to ensure that the injured individual does not end up paying for the negligence that led to their injury.

Yuba City Farm Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Yuba City farm injury lawyer. If you have been injured in a farm accident, make sure you are compensated for the financial damages you incurred. This includes medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Call me at (530) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also contact me online.

I’ve been able to help Yuba City residents since 1982 with all types of car accidents and personal injuries, wrongful deaths, and other severe trauma

I am proud to belong to the following organizations, among others:

Learn about my law practice using the following links:

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 7.31.20]

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