Archive for April, 2011

Missouri Agricultural Accidents: Your Rights to Compensation By Missouri Injury Attorneys

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Agriculture related accidents involving farm machinery can cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.  While there have been significant strides to make tractors and other farm equipment safer, there are still a substantial number of injuries caused by farm machinery.  Tractors are a particularly dangerous type of farm machinery and account for half of all farm accident fatalities according to industry data.  A study conducted during one seven year period revealed over 2,500 tractor accident related fatalities almost half resulting from tractor rollover accidents.  Tractor accidents may be caused by a variety of factors including operator error, lack of training or experience, tractor product defects or inadequate maintenance.

The agricultural industry represents one of the most dangerous occupational classifications.  Approximate 3,000 people a week are injured in agricultural accidents with about 150 people per week suffering serious injuries that result in permanent impairment.  According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, farming is the third leading industry for accident related fatalities.  The fatality accident rate for agricultural employees is over eight times the rate for those who work in the manufacturing industry.

There are many issues with farm machinery including tractors that may cause injuries including:

  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Improper repairs
  • No ROPS (Rollover Protective Structures)
  • Negligence of other workers
  • Lack of safety devices like guards or shields
  • Defective safety shutoffs
  • Insufficient training or supervision
  • Lack of seat belts

Many farm machinery related accidents involve tractors that are not equipped with seat belts or ROPS systems.  These accidents may also involve having passengers on the tractor or having inexperienced or inadequate operators.

Serious farm injuries also result from failure to comply with OSHA safety regulations and failure to supply appropriate protective gear.  When farm workers are put in harms way because of inadequate safety measures, the injured agricultural worker may have a right to compensation for one’s injuries.

Litigation of an agricultural accident involving farm equipment including tractor accidents can be complex because of the interplay of personal injury and worker’s compensation law.  If the injured person is a farm employee, worker’s compensation may provide an exclusive remedy against one’s employer.  The advantage to pursuing a worker’s compensation claim is that there is no requirement to establish fault by one’s employer.

Unfortunately, the compensation available from a worker’s compensation claim typically is far less than in a personal injury lawsuit.  Many times a farm worker may suffer injury caused by multiple parties including other companies doing work on the property or the manufacturer of a defective piece of farm machinery.  Our experienced Kansas farm accident attorneys may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against these other parties to obtain additional compensation for your injuries.  Because tractor rollover accidents often result in catastrophic injuries, it is essential to pursue all avenues of compensation.

Our law firm represents those injured in all forms of motor vehicle accidents including tractor accidents.  If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or you have lost a loved one to wrongful death our experienced tractor accident attorneys may be able to help.  We urge you to call us today to learn about your rights and options.

Avoiding Liability for Employee’s Cell Phone Related Accidents

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Our law firm routinely receives calls from Kansas business owners inquiring about their liability for serious auto accidents where their employee is at-fault while engaged in company business.  Juries throughout the country have been awarding motor vehicle accident victims massive judgments in cases where an employee causes catastrophic injuries or wrongful death in auto accidents while talking or texting on a cell phone.  An employer that issues a company phone to an employee to use to conduct business is particularly vulnerable to liability for injuries caused by an employee’s distracted driving.

For example, a Florida jury awarded $21 million to the family of a wrongful death victim against an employer whose employee collided with the other vehicle while engaged in a sales call for the company.  The company neither directed her to make the call while she was driving nor to even use her cell phone but also had no company policy that prohibited cell phone use while driving.  This is just one of a number of massive verdicts against companies based on an employee car accident while using a cell phone.  The issue of liability for injuries caused by employees involved in cell phone related car accidents has become so prevalent that twenty percent of all Fortune 500 Companies have implemented complete bans on cell phone use by employees during business hours.

While our law firm defends companies who face liability for injuries caused by the negligence of their employees, we know the best approach is to develop company policies and procedures that minimize exposure to such liability risks before they occur.  If a company plans to issue company cell phones, it is imperative that the company takes clear steps to prevent cell phone use while driving.  Some measures that can help reduce a company’s exposure for cell phone related accidents by its employees include:

No Company Cell Phones: If it is not essential to issue company cell phones, a company can reduce its potential liability by not issuing cell phones to its employees.  If company cell phones are issued, then it is essential to develop elaborate and carefully articulated rules concerning when and how the cell phones may be used.  Employees should be asked to sign a form indicating they are aware of the policy and understand the disciplinary measures that may be faced if the rules are violated.

Written Policy Limiting Personal Cell Phone Use: The company should have a written policy clearly prohibiting ALL cell phone use while driving during company hours or while performing company business after hours.  A warning should appear on the cell phone and in an obvious place within all company vehicles.

The business law attorney section of our practice is aware that a one-size fit all policy is not appropriate for all businesses, but a company must have a risk management policy for this growing business liability risk.  The policy that the company implements to avoid liability must be carefully considered to be effective.  A case against International Paper Company settled for $5.2 million when its employee rear-ended another vehicle while talking on his cell phone.  This case is particularly noteworthy because the employee violated a company policy limiting use of a cell phone while driving to hands free use only.

Our Kansas business law attorneys can advise you regarding your potential liability exposure and conduct a risk assessment including recommending policies to avoid liability for injuries caused by your employees including cell phone related auto accidents.  Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation.