Farming is a major industry in Missouri, but it’s also very hazardous. From small family farms to huge, million dollar enterprises, there is a constant risk of injury. Toxic chemicals, heavy machinery, livestock, and exposure to the elements are all possible sources of personal injury and health hazards.
According to OSHA:
- Around 3.1 million people are employed on farms in the United States,
- About 120,000 injuries occur on these farms every year, and
- Around 1,300 of these are fatal.
Reportedly, the number one cause of farm worker fatalities is tractor accidents. Many injuries can be prevented with proper equipment maintenance and protective gear. In most cases, older and younger farm workers are typically more susceptible to injury.
While some injuries that occur on farms are covered under Missouri workers’ compensation laws, others are not. Employers of farm labor are not required to have workers’ compensation coverage. However, farm employers with five or more employees who also employ non-farm labor, must have workers’ compensation coverage. When an individual works for 5.5 consecutive work days in one year, he or she counts as an employee.
All Missouri farm workers should be aware that while they may not be entitled to workers’ compensation, they can file a personal injury claim in civil court. Furthermore, a recent Missouri Court found that occupational injuries such as mesothelioma, carpal tunnel, and cubital tunnel syndrome are not exclusively covered. As a result, workers who suffer from these type of injuries can choose between filing a civil lawsuit or a workers’ comp claim.
One major advantage of workers’ comp claims is that if the injury is covered, it is not necessary to collect evidence or prove that the employer acted negligently. If a claim is eligible for workers’ compensation, receiving benefits is more certain than filing a lawsuit. However, in some cases a lawsuit could yield better financial compensation through an award for pain and suffering, which is not covered by workers’ comp insurance.
Both workers’ compensation and personal injury law can be very complicated. If you are a Missouri farm worker who was injured on the job, contact an experienced attorney to explore your legal rights and options.