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Farm Equipment Accidents: How To Share The Road & What You Need To Know

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Farmers must use a lot of equipment in order to maintain their farms, including trucks, tractors, bailers, choppers, and seeders. Any piece of heavy machinery can be dangerous, regardless of how familiar the farmer is with its use. However, some of the most serious farming equipment accidents involve tractors, trucks, and other equipment that is sometimes driven on the road alongside vehicles. Whether you are driving next to someone operating farming equipment or you are the one operating it, it’s important to learn how to share the road and stay safe. Here’s what you should know:

Types of Farm Equipment Accidents

There are many different types of farm equipment accidents that can happen on the road. First, a vehicle can collide with farm equipment when attempting to pass the farmer or by rear-ending the farm equipment. These accidents can be just as serious—if not more serious—than standard traffic accidents involving two or more cars.

Another common type of farm equipment accident is a tractor rollover. This type of accident can occur anywhere, but it is most common when the tractor is turning, driving near steep slopes, or driving near the edge of the road. A rollover can also occur when the farmer is shifting gears or slamming on the brakes—especially if the roads are slippery due to rain. Newer tractor models are supposed to have rollover protection systems (ROPS) that prevent rollover accidents. Although older tractors are more likely to rollover than newer ones, it’s still possible to rollover in a newer model that has ROPS.

Injuries and fatalities can also occur when something flies off of the farm equipment and hits a pedestrian, bicyclist, or vehicle nearby. This may not seem as dangerous as colliding directly with farm equipment, but it can be depending on the type of object and where it lands.

Sharing the Road With Farm Equipment

It’s important to drive carefully at all times, especially when you are around farm equipment. Farm equipment does not travel as fast as vehicles, so you may want to pass the farmer so you don’t get stuck traveling at a slow pace. But, do not pass farm equipment unless you can clearly see the road ahead so you can be certain that there is no oncoming traffic. You should also leave plenty of room to the side of your vehicle for the farm equipment, since many types of equipment are actually wider than they appear to be from behind.

It can be frustrating to get stuck behind farm equipment, but try to remain patient. Do not tailgate the farm equipment in an effort to make the farmer go faster. Not only is this not an effective way to tell someone to go faster, but it could also lead to serious injuries if you accidentally rear-end the equipment.

It’s also important to recognize when a farmer is trying to turn left. Farm equipment is difficult to maneuver, so farmers need to make wide left turns to prevent rollovers. To do this, they need to pull to the right side of the road. Other drivers often interpret this as the farmer being nice and allowing the driver to pass, but that’s not the farmer’s intention. If a driver speeds up to get around the farmer right as they are completing the left turn, this could lead to serious injuries. To prevent this from happening, make sure you never make assumptions about what where farm equipment is going. Be cautious and wait for the farmer to signal that you can pass instead of trying to guess what their next move will be.

Drivers should also know that it can be difficult for a farmer to hear anything over the noise of the equipment. Therefore, no one should ever assume that it is safe to pass farm equipment as long as the farmer is warned with a few beeps of the car horn. Farmers have to stay so focused on the road ahead that they may not even see your vehicle as it starts to approach them from the side.

Farmers should do their part to keep the roads safe, too. To avoid accidents, farmers should always turn on their lights when driving at night. They should also put reflective tape and reflectors on the equipment to ensure they are visible to other people on the road. If a farmer spots another driver approaching from behind, the farmer should make an effort to pull off to the side of the road and allow the driver to pass. However, there’s no rush to do this, so wait until you have found a safe place to pull off to the side of the road.

Liability For Farm Equipment Accidents

If you have been injured in an accident with farm equipment, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But first, you must be able to prove that the operator of the farm equipment was to blame for the accident. An attorney can assist with this step in the process by analyzing photos from the scene of the accident, conducting interviews with witnesses, and reviewing medical records.

The operator of the equipment is not the only one who could be held liable. Some accidents are caused by a defective or malfunctioning part of the equipment. In this case, the operator of the equipment cannot be held liable since the defect is not their fault. Instead, the manufacturer of the equipment could be responsible for any injuries that occurred.

Have you been injured in an accident with farming equipment? If so, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Our skilled personal injury attorneys will immediately get to work to determine who was at fault for the accident so we can start fighting for the compensation that you deserve.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".