Ranching is a way of life for many Nebraskans. The state’s 47,400 farms and ranches raise cattle and crops that help feed our nation and the world. A USDA economic study also found Nebraska’s $6.58 billion exports translated to $8 billion in economic activity during 2016.
Nebraska’s ranches and farms couldn’t succeed without dedicated agricultural workers. Unfortunately, their hard work comes with a price. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says ranching ranks as one of America’s most dangerous professions. More agricultural employees die at work than in the mining and construction industries combined. Additionally, the federal agency found they suffer more job-related injuries.
Serious ranch accidents can happen without warning. These traumatic incidents may have tragic, life-changing consequences. In minor incidents, workers receive sprains while working. Others suffer catastrophic injuries that disable them forever. These accidents disfigure their bodies. They may suffer from cognitive, behavioral, and emotional issues due to brain injuries. Some die in preventable accidents.
Workers need time off to recuperate from these serious injuries. Some can’t pay their mortgage, growing medical bills, or other personal expenses. Other employees lose their jobs or never return to work due to their life-altering injuries.
Our firm realizes farm hands give their best work to ranchers. After they’re injured, they feel betrayed and abandoned by their employers.
Are you a ranch worker that suffered an injury in a serious accident? Contact the Robert Pahlke Law Firm for a free consultation. We can help get justice in your personal injury case; our Nebraska ranch accident attorneys can review your case, and help ensure You receive compensation for your injuries if your claim is successful. Contact us today, or call (308) 633-4444 to speak to an attorney.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer With a Ranching Background
When you hire The Robert Pahlke Law Group, you’ll have attorneys that have first-hand knowledge about the ranching industry. You’ll have a Nebraska attorney that understands the dangers agricultural workers face.
Robert Pahlke is the son of a farmer and ranch hand who grew up on the wide, open prairies of South Dakota. In college, he stayed true to his country roots and participated in ranching and farming clubs. After college, Pahlke used his legal knowledge to help injured agricultural workers.
Ranching Accidents Are Common
Ranch and farm accidents are common and preventable. Several studies showed human error or faulty equipment caused many of these incidents. The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a safety program that tracks injuries. The federal group found:
- Hundreds of agricultural workers receive injuries that cause them to miss work.
- Fifty percent of all hired crop workers suffered a sprain or strain-related injuries.
- The federal agency found that 12,000 youths suffered injuries on farms in 2014. Farm work caused almost 4,000 of these injuries.
- In 2016, 417 farmers agricultural employees died of work-related injuries. The fatality rate was 21.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Farming equipment causes most accidents that occur on ranches. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) found tractor accidents caused most fatalities.
Seven Common Ranching Accidents
Ranch accidents can be deadly. Here are seven common accidents that occur on farms.
- Tractor rollover accidents – The National Safety Council says tractor accidents are the leading cause of injuries and death on ranches. Every year, these accidents kill 125 people according to the National Agricultural and Tractor Safety Initiative. These incidents accounted for 2,165 farm workplace deaths between 1992 and 2001.
Poor designs cause these tractor accidents. Manufacturers haven’t designed safe vehicles. New models have rollover protection systems (ROPS). More than 50 percent of older tractors don’t have ROPS or seat belts. Many farming operations have tractor rollover incidents that injure workers.
- Pickers and combines – Corn pickers and combines cause accidental amputations and deaths every year. Farmers use combines to harvest corn. The picker uses a pronged header to strip the corn close to the stalks. It feeds the vegetables into a combine, which husks them with rotating rollers.
Ranch hands lose limbs when they try to free stalks from the machines. Other deaths occur when the hydraulic cylinders on combines fail and fall down. These parts crush victims.
- Electrocutions – The Iowa State University’s Extension office found electrocution kills 35 farm hands every year. These workers die after touching uninsulated electrical grids, and overhead power lines.
- Machines other than tractors – These serious accidents occur when machines injure the ranch hands while performing maintenance activities. Workers can also get entangled in chains, belts, gears, and other mechanisms.
- Non-machinery accidents – Agricultural workers can suffer trauma while performing chores related to livestock. Injuries include head bruises, traumatic brain injuries, and skull fractures while handling animals.
- Farm structure emergencies – These accidents occur when ranch hands operate silos or grain bins. Workers can become trapped, or suffer falls and electrocutions.
- Pesticide-related injuries – Every year, ranchers can suffer burns, poisonings, and physical damage due to pesticides.
Here are five common injuries that ranch hands suffer while finishing farm work.
- Accidental amputations – Amputations is the removal of a limb by trauma, surgery, or medical illness. They can involve any body part including the fingers, hands, arms, legs, toes, and ears. Around 30,000 people lose limbs in traumatic accidents every year. Agricultural-related accidents are the third-leading cause of traumatic amputations.
- Traumatic brain injuries – The CDC says that 1.5 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year. This trauma can be “closed,” where the brain bounces against the skull; TBIs can also be “open” types, where an object penetrates the skull. These injuries may cause cognitive and behavioral limitations in patients.
- Concussions – Ohio State University researchers say concussions are a mild form of TBI. Slip, trips, and falls can cause concussions. Other risk factors include working with livestock, heavy equipment, and making repairs.
- Sprains and strains – These injuries involve stretching or tearing of ligaments, the bands that hold your joints together. These injuries heal within a few days, but agricultural workers can lose money as they recuperate.
- Crush injuries and broken bones – Crush injuries occur when objects pin, trap, or jam a body part. They can damage the skin, muscles, nerves or bones depending on the degree of force. Sources of crush injuries and broken bones are:
Other Diseases Associated with Farm Work
Tractor-related injuries aren’t the only dangers that farm workers face. They can also contract chronic and long-term illnesses from their work on the farm.
- Respiratory diseases – Airborne dust and toxins can cause a variety of lung-related diseases. These diseases occur when ranch workers get exposed to toxins in grain bins and confined spaces.
- Asthma and mucous membrane irritation (MMI)
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Acute Pulmonary Symptoms (APS)
- Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome
- Cancers – Agricultural workers develop cancer when exposed to toxins on farms. The dominant cancers are leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
- Pesticide toxicity – Exposure to pesticides cause serious illnesses. Immediate symptoms include vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and lung disease. Long-term illnesses include cancers and lung disease. NIOSH started a Pesticide Illness and Injury Surveillance program to track toxin-related injuries.
- Musculoskeletal syndrome – The National Coalition for Agricultural safety says musculoskeletal issues are common in agriculture workers. Vibrations from tractors and machinery can expose farmworkers’ bodies to repeated trauma and lead to this disease.
- Noise-induced hearing loss – Hearing losses affect one-fourth of all younger farmers and half of older farmers. Exposure to loud farm machinery and tractors causes this injury
Damages Related to Ranching Accidents
Plaintiffs can collect compensatory damages if their claims are successful. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Attorneys fees
How Landowners Reduce Their Liability
Some landowners will claim the farm worker was partly or fully responsible for the accident. They’ll say the accident occurred due to human error. Friendly insurance company investigators will talk to the injured plaintiff. They’ll take statements while the farm worker is still recuperating in the hospital. The investigator will pretend to be on the ranch worker’s side. They use these statements against the plaintiff in court to reduce their liability.
A judge or jury may decide whether the plaintiff was partly responsible for the accident. Usually, the court assigns fault according to a percentage of each person’s liability. Courts and juries will reduce damage awards if they find the plaintiff has some fault in the accident.
Don’t speak to anyone if you’re injured. Hire your own legal team to protect your interests.
Hire The Robert Pahlke Law Group
Schedule a free consultation with The Robert Pahlke Law Group to review your case. Our firm handles cases on a contingency basis: we only charge a fee if we win your case in court, or secure a settlement on your behalf.
Trust Veteran Nebraska Ranch Accident Attorneys
Were you injured in a ranch accident? Contact the Robert Pahlke Law Group. Our Nebraska ranch accident lawyers can determine if you have a claim. You can contact us or call (308) 633-4444.