Agricultural Workplace Injuries in Raleigh NC
Farmworkers and agricultural workers in North Carolina perform important jobs, planting and harvesting crops and helping manage livestock. Agricultural workers are at an increased risk of on-the-job injuries and work-related health issues because of the hazards they face while doing their jobs. They work in all kinds of weather and working conditions. It is important for farmworkers who are injured on the job to understand the legal options and benefits available to them.
Farmworkers in North Carolina who sustain injuries while working may in some cases be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or have other options, depending on the agricultural operation that employs them. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that state law requires many employers to purchase to provide medical care at no cost to the injured worker and replace lost wages. A farm job injury lawyer at Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., can review the circumstances of your injury and employment and discuss your eligibility to claim workers’ compensation benefits during a free consultation.
At Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., our Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys represent farmworkers and agricultural workers who have been injured on the job or developed work-related diseases and need help obtaining medical and wage benefits. Many farmworkers in North Carolina speak Spanish as their first language. Our attorneys can discuss your legal issues in your preferred language, whether English or Spanish. Attorney Joseph Baznik, whose grandparents immigrated from Mexico, speaks Spanish fluently. Call today to talk with a workers’ compensation job injury attorney. The injured worker pays no legal fee unless our attorneys are successful in obtaining financial compensation for the worker.
Do I Have Legal Rights to Farmworkers Compensation?
Only farmworkers on certain types of agricultural operations and farms in North Carolina are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
- Agribusinesses and farming operations that employ H-2A workers are required by federal law to provide workers’ compensation insurance benefits. If a farm worker has a work-related injury or illness, the employer’s workers’ compensation would pay for the worker’s medical care and provide some reimbursement for lost wages. North Carolina has among the highest number of H-2A workers doing temporary agricultural work of any state. Many guest workers come from Mexico and Central America and return year after year to the same employer.
- Large farms that have 10 or more full-time, non-seasonal workers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance.
- Some agriculture operations voluntarily provide workers’ compensation to employees.
Farmworkers who are not covered by workers’ compensation may have a right to file a personal injury lawsuit in some cases if they have been injured due to others’ disregard for safety. An injured agricultural worker has certain legal rights regardless of his or her immigration status. We can help you understand your rights.
How Can a Farm Injury Lawyer Help Me?
Farmworkers who sustain injuries on the job are often uncertain about their legal rights and what steps to take. Our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys can help you understand your legal options at no charge. We offer a free case evaluation to review the details of your injury and help you understand your legal rights and what benefits you are entitled to seek. Our attorneys do not charge any legal fee to evaluate your case or discuss your legal rights.
Some farm workers have the same rights to workers’ compensation as workers in other industries. Unfortunately, some agricultural employers may tell workers that they do not have insurance or try to discourage an injured worker from filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers may be fearful that they will lose their job or be deported if they claim workers’ comp benefits for a farm injury. Some employers may try to play on those fears to avoid paying an injury claim.
Our knowledgeable attorneys can determine the benefits that you are entitled to claim by law after reviewing your employment and the details of your accident. We can help you file a workers’ compensation claim, appeal a disputed claim or file a civil lawsuit if appropriate.
We have a detailed knowledge of the workers’ compensation appeals process. We can guide you through the appeals process and help you pursue a just resolution of your claim. We will stand beside you through every step to pursue justice.
Common Agricultural Hazards that Cause Farm-Related Injuries
Agricultural workers are exposed to numerous hazards in the course of doing their jobs. They include:
- Heat Stress — Farmworkers working through North Carolina’s hot and humid summer months may develop heat illness. Workers may experience heat stress if they don’t drink enough water and take frequent breaks from the heat to keep the body’s temperature at safe levels. Heat stress can progress to a heat-related stroke, which is a life-threatening condition. Heat stroke can lead to death or permanent disability if a farmworker does not receive emergency treatment.
- Musculoskeletal Injuries — Farm work is extremely physical and often involves pushing, pulling and lifting loads in both crop production and animal operations. Farmworkers may develop muscle strains, torn ligaments and other injuries from overexertion or the repetitive motions of lifting or bending over for lengthy periods of time.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Farm Equipment — Large farm tractors, combines and other vehicles use North Carolina’ rural roads and highways during planting and harvesting seasons to get from field to field. Farm vehicles typically travel at slower speeds than other motorists and often are on roads at dawn or dusk, when it is harder to see. Farm vehicles make wide turns, often directly into fields where no side road is present. A farm vehicle that appears to be moving to the right side of the road to let traffic pass may, in fact, be prepared to make a wide left turn. Agricultural workers operating farm vehicles on public roads are at risk of accidents with faster-moving automobile traffic. In North Carolina, more than half of crashes involving farm equipment result in an injury or death.
- Silos and Grain Bins — Working inside grain storage bins is extremely hazardous. Farmworkers face the risk of suffocation while walking on grain to make it flow or trying to clear grain built up on the inside of a silo. Moving grain acts like quicksand and can entrap and suffocate a worker in a matter of seconds. Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins. Mechanical equipment such as augurs and conveyors can pose an amputation hazard if a worker becomes entangled with the equipment. Workers also may suffer injuries from falls from elevated surfaces while working in a grain storage facility.
- Exposure to Pesticides and Herbicides — Agriculture workers may develop a short-term or long-term illness related to pesticide poisoning. Workers may be exposed to pesticide poisoning by working in a field where chemicals have recently been sprayed, eating contaminated fruit or vegetables, or washing their hands or drinking water from an irrigation canal where pesticides have accumulated. Farmworkers who perform hand labor on crops sprayed with pesticides may breathe pesticide drift from another field or come into contact with pesticide residue on crops.
- Loss of Limbs — Farmworkers who work with farm machinery that lacks adequate safeguards may get an arm or leg or clothing trapped in the machinery’s moving parts. A worker may sustain serious injuries, including the loss of arms, legs, hands or feet.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Farm or Agricultural Injuries in Raleigh?
An injured agricultural worker who is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina generally cannot file a lawsuit against his or her employer for causing a workplace accident resulting in an injury.
However, in some cases, an injured farmworker may bring a lawsuit and demand compensation from a party other than their employer that was responsible for the farm accident that caused the injury. For example, if you were driving a piece of farm equipment on the road and a distracted driver struck the farm equipment and caused your injury, you may have a legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the distracted driver who hit you, demanding compensation from the driver’s insurance for your medical bills and other expenses.
Our attorneys can review the details of your farm equipment accident and discuss with you whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate in your situation.
About Our Farm Labor Workers Compensation Attorneys
We understand that you may be struggling to recover from a difficult injury and experiencing financial stress from loss of income. Whether your injury occurred in Raleigh, Wake County, Smithfield, Johnston County or elsewhere in eastern North Carolina, we want to help
Our dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., want to help. We have many years of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers. Attorneys Robert C. “Chip” Younce Jr. and David E. Vtipil are board-certified specialists in North Carolina worker compensation law. Only a small percentage of lawyers in North Carolina are board-certified specialists in workers’ compensation law. That certification means that a lawyer has received additional training and passed a special written examination in a particular area of law.
Our experienced farmworker injury attorneys are available to review your case and answer your questions. The initial consultation is free.