Farming is a very dangerous occupation. Most of the danger is from unsafe equipment. No matter how careful a farm can be, accidents still occur. Last week, a Kentucky man was performing maintenance on his combine, when he became entangled inside of the engine compartment. The engine caught fire, trapping him inside. He died before medical personnel could save him.
Farmers use combines to harvest corn. A corn picker strips the stalks close to the ground using a pronged header. It then feeds them into a combine, which husks them with huge, sharp, rotating rollers. A conveyor belt carries the husked ears further into the machine, where the machine drops the corn into a large, moving container.
Combines help farmers harvest more efficiently, but they cause numerous injuries and deaths. According to the National Agricultural Safety Database,
“Virtually every farmer knows of a family member, friend or neighbor injured by a combine.”
Common Combine Injuries
Combines can injure farmers in numerous different ways even with the safest safety measures in place. The top of the machine is one of the most dangerous areas. It must remain open for the crop to enter the machine, but farmers need to avoid it while the machine is operating. The combine can pull farmers into the machine when attempting to dislodge stalks or grain sheaves with feet or hands while the combine is running.
Farmers who don’t turn off the combine to make adjustments could cause injury to themselves. Workers should make combine adjustments with the machine shut off to avoid injury to the operator. Another common combine injury is when the operator failed to properly lock or block the combine header while working under it. Furthermore, the machine injured farmers when they climb inside the combine’s grain tank to dislodge grain bridges that formed above the unloading auger.
Farm equipment manufacturers are often held legally responsible when the machines they design and market are found to be defective. The following corn picker or combine accident cases show the types of compensation that you may be entitled to if you have suffered injury or the loss of a loved one due to a corn picker or combine accident:
- Verdict for $2.9 million−A Wisconsin man’s legs and one arm were amputated after being caught in a corn picker. The jury found that the manufacturer should have provided an emergency stop on the machine, which would have prevented his severe and disabling injuries.
- Verdict for $750,000−A combine injured a 24-year-old man after the combine operator inadvertently activated the header. The man, who was standing on the corn header prongs, was knocked off balance and fell into the corn header. The combine subsequently drew him in. Due to the severity of his injuries, doctors amputated his left leg below the knee.
Compensation is Available
If a combine or another machine injured a farm worker, you or a family member, you may be entitled to compensation—including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
Manufacturers who design and distribute unsafe machinery should pay you for losses you suffer due to using their products.