Agriculture plays a vital role in Louisiana’s economy, along with the tourism and petrochemical industries. The state has approximately 30,000 farms working to produce agricultural commodities on more than eight million acres of farmland. While these farms play a vital role in feeding the nation, they also increase the risk that Louisiana drivers will become involved in accidents with farm equipment.
Car accidents involving farm equipment can result in a wide range of injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injuries. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident involving farm equipment, you need to be proactive about protecting your right to compensation. As with other types of Louisiana personal injury claims, there is a one-year statute of limitations you must follow unless your case qualifies for an exception.
Accident Risk Factors
There are a number of factors that can contribute to car accidents involving collisions with farm equipment. For example:
- Drivers of farm equipment may be distracted or not paying attention to the road.
- Farms may hire workers who are inexperienced in operating farm equipment on public roadways.
- Equipment transporting wide loads can make it dangerous for passenger vehicles that are sharing the road.
- Slow-moving tractors, balers, or other equipment can catch drivers of passenger vehicles off guard—especially when weather conditions decrease visibility.
- Farm vehicles that enter from unmarked access drives on fields can be hidden by tall crops that sometimes create “blind” corners.
- Drivers of farm vehicles might seem to be pulling off to the right to let a passenger vehicle pass, but be prepared to give the vehicle a wide berth.
- Farm vehicles may be missing necessary signage, markings, or lights.
- Poorly maintained farm vehicles might have faulty brakes or defective tires that can cause an accident.
Drivers of passenger vehicles may also contribute to accidents if they are speeding or trying to pass slow-moving farm equipment in unsafe conditions. While a driver who is partially at fault can still seek compensation for their injuries, their recovery will be proportionately reduced to reflect their own financial responsibility.
Protecting Your Right to Recovery
If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a farm vehicle, it’s important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. These cases can present some unique legal challenges.
One of the first issues a personal injury attorney will consider is potential liability. Normally, the driver of the vehicle is at fault. However, in a farm vehicle accident, the driver may be an employee working for a large farm that would be responsible for your injuries. Or, if the accident was caused by faulty equipment, the manufacturer might be found legally liable. Your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to see which parties should be held accountable.
It is also possible that the driver of the farm equipment was violating state law by being on the road. Rules for farm vehicles and equipment operating on public roadways are outlined in LA Rev Stat § 32:385. In general, vehicles can only be on public roadways for distances not to exceed 50 miles from the point of origin. Depending on the gross weight vehicle rating, a permit from the state may also be required. Violations of state laws can be used to support your claim for damages, as they show the driver was not operating the vehicle under safe conditions.
In addition to determining liability, your attorney can provide insight as to the potential value of your personal injury claim based on your injuries and the available insurance coverage. Your claim can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care, follow-up visits, and the anticipated cost of future medical care if your injuries have left you permanently disabled
- Lost wages, including the time you were unable to work due to your injuries and any anticipated loss of future earning potential associated with your accident-related disability
- Pain and suffering, including the physical pain of your injuries and the emotional trauma associated with being in the accident
Were You Injured in a Car Accident With Farm Equipment?
If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent farm equipment operator, our experienced car accident attorneys can help. Please contact us online, or call our Alexandria office directly to schedule your free consultation.