The Costly Aftermath of Farm Injuries

Posted by robyn

A 6-year-old Wisconsin boy will undergo multiple surgeries to save his leg after he injured it climbing onto a skid steer on his family farm. His parents are thrilled their son survived, but now they are faced with the daunting task of covering medical bills.  Without a GoFund Me account, they would never be able to afford the hospital bills. Plus, they have only raised half of the amount they need.

An estimated 33,000 children have farm-related injuries each year in the U.S. Most of these injuries are extensive and costly.

Economic Impact of Farm Injuries

Bill Field from Purdue University compiles a yearly Farm Fatality Report. He analyzed almost 7,000 non-fatal accidents reported on Indiana farms. Those may range from a few scrapes to a crippling disability. Doctors needed to treat most injuries. These could range from the amputation of severely mangled limbs, spinal cord injuries or brain injuries.

Estimates are those non-fatal farm injuries can cost almost $5,000 per incident. The economic effect when totaled was over $8.12 million. Not included are transportation costs to receive medical attention, which can be a major factor. People on farms live far from large metropolitan centers where many hospitals are located.  Simple ambulance runs are costly, and if an injured farmer needs a medical helicopter, the cost is even higher.

Expensive Healthcare

For many farmers, the cost of healthcare is just too high.  The Affordable Care Act, best known as Obamacare, is a solid option for self-employed farmers who qualify for subsidized premiums. However, for many, it is a long wait, and it may not always be affordable.

In a joint report of the New York Times and Kaiser Health News, insurance brokers and health providers estimated that meeting the Affordable Care Act’s minimum health plan would add about $1 per hour per field hand to the bottom lines of California’s $43.5 billion agriculture industry.

Injuries to Farmers without Health Insurance

In 2012, a Eugene, Oregon resident dragged his old combine into the front yard of his house, which sits on 30 acres of land. The machine lacked many of the safety features of newer equipment, but it fit the size of his farm. Being August and the peak of harvest season, he adjusted the head-lift blade on the combine. This would change the height of the blade to cut a different crop. Then, a bar broke free of the combine. It sliced through the bill of John Deere cap and his nose before stopping at the foundation of his eye socket.

He only spent a day in the hospital and left with his eyesight intact. However, he did not have health insurance only catastrophic insurance, which only covered injuries to others on the farm.  He received an almost $20,000 bill from the hospital. When researchers added other factors like an ambulance ride, the expense totaled almost $50,000. Without the kindness of strangers and community, he would have lost his farm. Today, he still owes $4,000 on the bill.

Get Financial Help

As a farm worker, you are at high risk for on-the-job injuries and death. Yet many injured farmers miss the compensation they deserve when they suffer such injuries. Some are also afraid to reach out for help due to concerns over confidentiality. Others misunderstand the legal system or think they don’t have any rights.

Both these concerns are unnecessary. The Farm Injury Resource Center (FIRC) wants you to know that you do have rights, and confidential help is available.

FIRC is dedicated to providing totally confidential help and resources to injured farmers. We help you exercise your rights, so you can claim the money and other benefits.