Tractor Accident Attorney in Omaha
People outside of Nebraska rarely realize the dangers associated with farming and agriculture. Transportation incidents, such as tractor overturns, were the leading cause of death for farmers and farmhands in a recent year, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). All heavy machinery is capable of doing serious harm to anyone working in the vicinity.
Many tractor accidents are the result of improper maintenance, insufficient training, unsafe practices, or countless other negligent practices – all of which could have been avoided. If you or a loved one have suffered an agricultural injury due to the negligence reckless acts of another, you may be eligible for compensation.
According to the National Safety Council, tractor rollovers are the number one cause of death and injury on farms in our country. The U.S. Department of Labor's Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries estimates that approximately 125 people are killed every year due to tractor rollovers. Safety equipment on tractors, such as seatbelts and roll bars, is being installed more frequently in order to keep workers safe while operating the heavy machinery. When properly used and maintained, roll bars and seatbelts can prevent most serious injuries; however, only half of the tractors used on U.S. farms implement these safety features.
Tractors are "rear-balanced" because more than two-thirds of their weight is distributed at the rear of the vehicle. If the rear wheels of the tractor get stuck, the rear axle will continue to turn, and the front of the tractor lifts flipping the tractor over, often crushing the operator. Coupled with a high center of gravity, the likelihood of a deadly rollover is increased.
While many tractors are slower-moving vehicles, some models can now move at up to 80 miles per hour. A tractor has a high center-of-gravity and, when moving at high speeds, it can put the operator and nearby workers at risk of serious injury or loss of life.
Unsafe design or manufacturing defects can lead to deadly tractor accidents. The tractor manufacturer may be held liable if it’s determined the design defect played a contributing role in the accident. For example, if a tractor’s braking system fails during operation due to a design defect or the manufacturing process, then any person injured may have a legitimate claim against the manufacturer in a product liability case. Any instance where an individual is injured due to malfunctioning equipment may also be grounds for a product liability lawsuit.
Power take-off (known as "PTO") injuries are common occurrences on a farm. According to the National Agricultural Safety Database, most PTO accidents take place when a person’s limbs or pieces of clothing become entangled in the rotating PTO shaft. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are often fatal. The National Safety Council has published safety tips to prevent PTO injuries. These suggestions include:
- Tucking long hair under a fitted cap, or keeping it tied back, to keep it from being caught by the machinery;
- Immediately repairing or replacing any damaged or missing PTO shields;
- Refraining from wearing loose clothing when operating the machinery;
- Watching your step when walking around a machine currently in use.
If a person is injured because of a missing PTO shield, liability could be placed on the owner of the tractor since it’s the owner’s responsibility to maintain a safe vehicle. In some instances, if a farmhand isn’t properly trained to operate the tractor, or warned about the dangers, the lack of proper training could be deemed negligent behavior on the part of the tractor owner.
In a tractor accident, determining liability can be a complicated process, best managed by an experienced personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable in the field of agricultural accidents. One or more parties may be involved, including:
- The farm owner: If tractors are suffering from a lack of maintenance, key safety features are absent or in bad repair, or even if the driver was inadequately or improperly trained, the farm owner may be liable for the accident.
- The tractor owner: If unsafe tractors are rented or provided to a farm on a lease, the owner may be responsible for your injuries or damage.
- The tractor operator: Just like driving a car, there are safe practices and legal requirements for operating a tractor. Irresponsible driving on the part of a tractor operator can make them liable for an accident.
- The maintenance crew: If proper maintenance is falsified or inadequate, a third-party maintenance company may be liable for damages.
- The manufacturer: In some cases, a part or parts of the tractor are defective, and this results in an accident. If it can be established that tractor failure was a manufacturing defect, you may have a case against the manufacturer.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) ranks agriculture among the most hazardous industries. While not every incident involved negligent behavior or lack of vehicle maintenance, some of these incidents were undoubtedly preventable.
Farmers and agricultural workers are the backbone of our country, often working long hours and in difficult conditions. If you or a loved one has been injured by a tractor or in any other kind of agricultural incident, we may be able to help you recover the compensation you need. Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. today for a free consultation at (402) 505-8234. We can review your case, answer your questions, and clearly explain your legal options if you’ve been injured in a tractor or farm equipment accident in Omaha.
- OSHA and Your Rights on a Farm in Nebraska
- How the United States Farms
- Tractor Accidents: Serious But Often Preventable
- Agricultural Safety - NIOSH
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