Were you injured while working on a farm? You may have questions about your recovery:

  • Do I meet the requirements for Workers' Comp?
  • What do I need to have in order to file a claim?
  • Are there other ways to be compensated?
  • Should I discuss this with a lawyer?

We're prepared to help injured farm laborers receive the financial compensation they deserve.

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Our experienced work injury lawyers are proud to represent injured farm laborers.

— Michael Monheit, Esq.

Many Americans make take farm workers for granted. When we go to the grocery store, most of us don't consider how much hard work went into providing us with our meat, produce, dairy, and other agricultural products. Each day, these laborers face a variety of occupational hazards, including the use of heavy machinery, toxic chemicals, and repetitive motions.

Unfortunately, many farm workers do not qualify for the same Workers' Compensation benefits as employees in nearly every other industry. Pennsylvania has specific rules in place which determine if an agricultural worker is eligible for compensation. At Monheit Law, we're proud to help these workers navigate the complex process of earning compensation for a work injury.

Are Farm Workers Eligible For Workers' Comp?

The majority of states provide no protection for injured agricultural workers. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does offer Workers' Compensation for these workers, but only under certain circumstances. In order to qualify, your employer must pay at least one farm worker $1,200 or more in one year and employ one farm worker for 30 days or more in a calendar year.

Workers who meet these requirements should absolutely file a Workers' Comp claim. But many farmers make use of day laborers who receive payments under the table, instead of hiring a staff. In these situations, there may be other ways to receive fair compensation after a work injury.

Injured agricultural workers should consider meeting with an experienced work injury lawyer to discuss their options.

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Is A Personal Injury Claim An Option?older farm worker harvesting grapes

While it's unfortunate that temporary farm workers are denied their right to Workers' Compensation, personal injury claims may offer some recourse in cases of third party liability. Examples include:

  • Injuries caused by defective equipment (product liability)
  • Injuries caused by someone else's negligence (e.g. another worker injured you using heavy machinery)

If a third party caused your accident and injuries, you may be permitted to hold them liable for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life

It's usually necessary to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your situation in order to determine if you have grounds for a claim.

Work-Related Dangers For Agricultural Workers

Farmworkers are regularly exposed to a variety of occupational hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the following common hazards:

  • Vehicle hazards - In 2011, vehicular accidents accounted for nearly half of agricultural worker fatalities.
  • Heat - Farm workers are forced to work long hours under the hot sun. This can lead to serious illnesses like heat stroke. It's important to drink water frequently and take rest breaks in the shade.
  • Falls - Laborers frequently use ladders and work from elevations. It's important to follow safety guidelines to avoid falls.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries - Farm labor requires heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and awkward positions. Over time, this work can lead to accumulated physical stress and long-term injuries.
  • Tools and heavy machinery - Farmworkers may injure themselves using sharp tools (such as hoes and knives) and heavy machinery, such as tractors.
  • Grain bins and silos - Farmworkers are sometimes engulfed or suffocated in grain storage bins and silos
  • Unsanitary conditions - Some farms lack access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and handwashing facilities. This can cause heat stroke or exhaustion from dehydration, urinary tract infections from lack of toilets, or chemical poisoning for lack of handwashing facilities.
  • Pesticides and chemicals - Laborers who work with pesticides may contract short and long-term illnesses from exposure. Family members could also be exposed if these handlers bring pesticides and chemicals home with them on their clothing.
  • Respiratory distress - Farms are frequently polluted with contaminants which can cause harm if inhaled, such as dusts, microorganisms, endotoxins, and chemical toxicant from grains and animal waste.
  • Zoonotic infections - Infectious diseases like avian flu, staph infections, and West Nile Virus.
  • Noise - Farm equipment is very loud and prolonged exposure to noise pollution frequently leads to hearing loss in farmworkers.

How Can Lawyers Help Injured Laborers?

Because farmworkers are usually prohibited from seeking Workers' Compensation, it's often necessary to hire an experienced work injury lawyer in order to receive financial assistance for injury-related expenses.

A knowledgeable work injury lawyer will know how to hold negligent third parties liable for damages. Additionally, he or she can determine if a laborer without Workers' Comp coverage actually meets the requirements for coverage.

Agricultural injury cases are complex, and speaking with a lawyer is usually the only reliable way to determine your best options for compensation.

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