Making a Claim for Farm Accidents
With 1,500 people in the UK getting injured every year while performing agricultural duties, farm accident compensation claims are far more common than you may realise. A farm is an unpredictable environment as employees must deal with temperamental animals as well as working with machinery. Members of the public and children also visit farms on a regular basis, they too are at risk from injury and could make farm accident claims.
If you are considering making a farm accident claim, you must first have suffered an actual injury while working or visiting the farm. If your employer or anyone else was directly responsible for the accident due to their gross negligence you will not have a claim unless you sustained a physical injury as a result of the accident. If you have not suffered an injury or personal loss but feel that the incident caused you psychological damage, then you may have a claim but this is far more difficult to prove than a physical injury.
An accident on a farm may not occur directly because of negligence – but a lack of training or failure to provide employees with a safe working environment is enough to expose an employer to legal action. If an employer’s failure to conform to certain health and safety regulations is deemed to have led to the accident, then the employer and their company will be held responsible.
Farm accident liability
If you make a farm accident claim, you must be able to prove that the person who had a care of duty towards you failed to keep you safe through their negligent actions. Generally speaking, employers on a farm owe a care of duty to their employees, the law is usually on the side of the plaintiff and sets strict standards for employers to adhere to. Even though there are always instances when an employee is responsible for their own accident, in the majority of cases, the employer’s negligence is why accidents happen. This could be because they failed to properly train their staff or did not provide protective gear for employees using machinery.
Defining Contributory Negligence
Occasionally, the employer will refuse to accept an employee’s version of events and will dispute all claims that they are liable. In this instance, if there is sufficient proof that the plaintiff had some responsibility in their accident, the court may decide, or else both parties will agree that both employer and employee must claim responsibility for what happened. When an employee accepts that they were partially to blame for their injuries and the accident, the principle of contributory negligence is brought into play. Effectively, this is when the claimant admits that their actions were negligent to a degree and that better behaviour on their part could have helped them avoid the accident. This reduces the level of compensation received by the plaintiff. The reduction depends on how much responsibility is placed on the employee. For example, if they were 30% to blame, they will receive 30% less settlement than if their employer was completely at fault.
Find out your employment status
Tou will be unable to make a farm accident claim unless you have sustained an injury at work and also have documents such as safety reports (to prove that your employer broke regulations) as well as witnesses to verify your claim. It is important to have full knowledge of who your employer is. Many victims of accidents make farm accident claims against people who don’t actually employ them. This confusion occurs because the plaintiff is self-employed or else they are working as a sub-contractor supplied by another agency. Remember that you can also make your farm accident claim against other defendants such as the owners of the building. This can be a complex matter, so it is best to consult your solicitor as soon as possible.
Taking care of your health
Your farm accident claim should be put on the back burner until you have received proper treatment for your injuries. Instead of staying at the scene and finding scapegoats, ensure that an ambulance has been called and go immediately to hospital. If no one has raised the alarm, take matters into your own hands and make your way to the emergency department of a hospital or phone your GP for an immediate appointment. As injuries are not always apparent, follow these safety procedures even if you feel fine – nothing can replace a clean bill of health. Once you attend the hospital or your doctor, your attendance will be recorded as will any medication prescribed. Your solicitor will then be able to use this information to strengthen your claim later on.
The importance of the accident report book
All employers are obliged to have an accident report book on the premises. If you are in a fit state to do so, ensure that full details of your accident are entered as soon as possible. It is crucial that you avoid admitting liability for the accident as this could destroy your chances of making a successful farm accident claim. The accident report book is vital as your solicitor will need it when making your case.
No Win, No Fee
Don’t be hesitant when it comes to making a farm accident claim. Even if your case is unsuccessful, the legal team handling your case will assume responsibility for all legal fees incurred. Farm accidents happen regularly and successful claims are plentiful. For example, a young employee at a Norfolk farm unfortunately lost a toe and suffered scarring after a bad electric shock last year. He decided to make a no win, no fee claim and won £25,000. We understand that financial gain is no substitute for good health, but if you have suffered an accident on a farm, make a no win, no fee claim and maybe the settlement you win will help you get the best treatment available.
All articles are written or edited by Eoin Campbell.