Tractor Accident Attorney in Omaha
People outside of Nebraska rarely realize how dangerous farming and agricultural jobs are. Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns, were the leading cause of death for farmers and farmhands in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we have no reason to suppose that has changed. All heavy machinery is capable of doing serious harm to anyone in its vicinity.
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After an agricultural injury, you need a lawyer who understands the agricultural industry, from workers’ compensation to contract law. Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. for a free, confidential consultation with that lawyer at (402) 505-8234.
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 considered "rear-balanced" because more than two-thirds of their weight is distributed on the rear side 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 may lift into the air as a result. This situation causes the tractor to flip backwards almost immediately. In addition, tractors have a high center of gravity, which also increases their likelihood of tipping over.
While tractors are often viewed as slower-moving vehicles, some models can travel at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Coupled with the balancing issues or operator error, tractors are prone to tip over. If someone operates a tractor in an unsafe manner, bystanders may hold the operator liable for injuries resulting from the incident. In some instances, the owner of the tractor may be held liable as well.
Improper design or manufacturing defects have also been known to cause tractor accidents. In instances like these, the manufacturer can be held liable if it’s determined the defect played a contributing role in the accident. For instance, if a tractor’s braking system fails during operation, and that failure isn’t the result of improper maintenance, but rather due to a defect from the design or manufacturing process, then anyone injured as a result may have a legitimate claim against the manufacturer in what is known as a product liability case. In some instances, product defects can even lead to product recalls. However, it should be understood that while a defect might not warrant a full-on product recall, any instance where an individual is injured due to malfunctioning equipment may 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.
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’re been injured in a tractor or farm equipment accident.
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