Farming Tractors are integral mechanism in the agricultural industry. Tractors have been instrumental in increasing farming output, efficiency and cost. However, farm tractors are also incredibly dangerous, as it is the leading cause of injury and death in the the farming industry. Farming equipment accident injuries are more rampant. While farming has the second highest rate of death at 26.1 deaths per 100,000 workers (only coal mining had more), the leading cause of farm worker deaths was tractor overturns, resulting in an average of 90 deaths a year.
Most alarming is that many of these injuries and fatalities are attributed to a specific defect on the tractor. Experts argue that a properly designed and manufactured improves the user’s survival rate from a miniscule 38% to 99%. Therefore, some of the biggest tractor brands, such as John Deere, New Holland, Massey Ferguson and Case are strictly liable for your damages. This is because these companies might fail to take certain variables into account such as gravity, centrifugal force, rear axle torque and drawback leverage.
Common Farm Tractor Injuries
Farming Tractors account for nearly ONE in THREE of all Workplace Farming Deaths in the United States
Because of their size and level of danger, defective and dangerous tractors often lead to only the most serious forms of injury, including death. The most common cause of tractor injury are rollovers. Sometimes, these injuries are a result of human error, such as carelessness, fatigue, poor judgement, or intoxication. However, even when these factors are present, a tractor injury may still be as a result of a product defect. This is because tractor manufacturers should be aware of these accidents, especially in light of the fact that these accidents are not only so common, but also are responsible for the gravest forms of injury.
Death resulting from farm tractor accidents: Additionally, rollovers are only one (although biggest) cause of injury within tractors. In a recent study comprised of data between 2003 and 2007, the leading causes of tractor death are:
Rollovers and Overturns (365 deaths)
Run-overs (243 deaths)
Collisions (48 deaths)
Clothing or equipment getting caught in the tractor (37 deaths)
While these numbers merely indicate the number of deaths, it fails to account for other serious forms of injury. For example, 1 in 7 farmers involved in a tractor rollover will become permanently disabled
Defective Farm Equipment: Failure to install Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS)
(ROPS) or Rollover Protective Structures have been shown to reduce the incidence of farm tractor rollovers by 99%
All tractors should be equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS), which includes roll bars and seat belts designed to protect the passenger in the event of a rollover. The ROPS will not prevent the rollover itself, but will go a long way in preventing serious injury from occurring. This is because the ROPS stops the tractor from overturning more than 90 degrees. ROPS has proven to reduce the possibility of a fatality in a rollover to less than 1%. The additional use of a seat belt insures that the operator will not be removed from his “zone of protection” and lie within a safe boundary.
It is important to note that tractors not equipped with ROPS should never have seat belts, as there is a remote possibility that the passenger may be able to get out.
These protective structures only became available in the 1960’s, but did not become standard on tractors until 1986. Therefore, there are a large number of tractors (as many as 67%), were never equipped with ROPS. Furthermore, even though ROPS has proven to make tractors at least 3 times safer, no major manufacturer has instigated a product recall to install ROPS on their tractors.
Proving a Defective Product Lawsuit in Court: Generally there are three types of defective product claims, on of which must be proven in the court of law. (1) Defect in original design of the farming equipment (2) Defect in the Manufacturing process so the the produced equipment is markedly different and more dangerous then the intended design (3) Failure to warn or known danger associated from the conventional use of the product; also knows and labeling defect.
Tractor Injury Lawsuits – Protecting the rights of Farmers Injured in Agricultural Accidents
If you or a loved one has been in a tractor accident, please call the dedicated team of personal injury attorneys at the Downtown L.A. Law Group to help receive compensation for your injuries. Recent supreme court ruling indicated that tractors are considered a “dangerous instrumentality” and therefore the law could place strict liability for owners and manufacturers for any injuries that occur as a result of the use of a tractor. Our aggressive attorneys will make sure you receive the full compensation allowed.
More information: CDC – Farm Accident Prevention Guide