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Farm Machinery Roadway Accidents

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a caller who asks “my son was working for a farmer and was driving a farm tractor and wagon down the highway when a truck rear-ended him, he got thrown off and fractured both legs, what are his legal options?”

In Indiana, there’s a big need for agricultural equipment to be moving up and down the highways during the agricultural season. Consequently, this is a call subject we have had to assist people with many times.

Tractors, and harvesting combines, as well as other slow-moving vehicles pose a special challenge for motorists.

Drivers often forget that it is a driver’s responsibility to slow down and pay attention to these items of equipment that are being moved down a roadway. Exercising caution, keeping a lookout, and slowing down are the key ways motorists can avoid a crash like the caller described.

Most farm equipment tends to move at around 25 miles per hour, at most. Often farm equipment is marked with a triangular slow-moving vehicle sign, or flashing lights. You’ll see signs and lights on wagons and other agricultural items that are moving about on the highways.

Even though safety requires that agricultural vehicles be approached with caution, as mentioned,  we have had a number of situations where cars, trucks, and semi-tractor trailer units, have actually run into tractors and have caused serious injuries to those operating the agricultural equipment like the caller’s son.

Even though the caller’s son did nothing wrong, he was on a road that some would label as a scenic route, with hills and sharp turns and where a vehicle moving too fast topped a steep hill and ran up too quickly on the slow-moving tractor just over the hill. By the time the tractor was observed, it was too late to stop.

Of course, the tractor and wagon had the right-of-way and the law is against the driver that failed to yield. The negligent driver can be held liable for violating traffic laws. We would also advise the caller that her son might also have a work injury claim under worker’s compensation laws, but this is not a clear-cut issue. In Indiana, and likely in many other states, farm laborers may not qualify under the law for workers compensation, given a special carve out under the law. And, lastly, if the vehicle that struck her son was a farm truck, it may be exempt from insurance requirements. Some grain hauling trucks that are on the roadway limited times of the year are not required to carry anything over minimal limits of vehicle insurance.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.