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Farm Accidents: Prevention & Legal Rights

Apr 12, 14

Agriculture remains one of the top ten most dangerous industries in the country, with thousands of occupational injuries and illnesses occurring each year. Every day, more than 200 agricultural workers suffer from injuries that require time off work, and about 5 percent of those injuries result in permanent impairment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 557 fatal agricultural injuries in 2011 alone.

Farm workers face common industrial workplace hazards from hard physical labor and working with heavy machinery, but they also face additional hazards specific to farm work such as pesticide exposure, entrapment, electrocution, trampling and sickness.

Safety precautions are thus critical in the agricultural environment. Awareness of hazards along with emergency preparation can make all the difference. 

Here are several steps you can take to help prevent agricultural accidents: 

  • Invest in quality equipment and inspect it regularly
  • Properly train workers by discussing safety hazards and reviewing emergency procedures
  • Supply the proper measures to deal with possible on-site injuries (first aid, including chemical and poison mediation tactics)
  • Make accommodations for those most at risk (ages 15 to 65) with proper safety equipment, and consider supervision 
  • Establish standard storage and maintenance practices 
  • Always wear seat belts while operating machinery
  • Follow instructions in equipment operator's manuals and labels
  • Install rollover protective structures and protective frames on tractors
  • Ensure that there are always guards on farming equipment
  • Use caution around unstable surfaces of substances like grain and hay in storage bins, silos, or barns
  • Be aware of the dangerous gases that can build up in unventilated silos and manure pits


Despite precautions and risk control, injuries and even worse, death can happen. Not all farm employees qualify to receive workers compensation benefits under South Dakota statues. 

According to the South Dakota Workers' Compensation Law, coverage does not apply to agricultural laborers unless they are working "more than 20 hours in a calendar week and for more than six weeks in any 13 week period" or unless they are "independent contractors who are certified as exempt by the department and workfare participants." South Dakota's worker compensation laws can be complex, therefore, you need a lawyer who understands worker’s compensation laws and has the experience to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to.  Attorneys Russ Janklow and Jami Bishop know the law and have helped numerous injured workers and their families get the compensation they deserve.

When injury or death occur as a result of negligence on the part of someone other than a farm employer, you may have grounds to seek damages under a personal injury claim separate from any workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to receive. Many injured farm workers don't realize that they have legal rights against parties other than their employer for defective or improperly marked farm machinery and equipment.  

The attorneys at Janklow Law are prepared and highly experienced to help you pursue a claim for damages, whether that be applicable workers’ compensation benefits or against a tortfeasor (wrongdoer), such as a large equipment manufacturer, part suppliers, maintenance companies or chemical distributors. 

If you or a loved one has suffered a farm related accident or injury or death, don’t delay, contact an experienced farming accident; personal injury lawyer at Janklow Law to for a free consultation to discuss your situation and your legal rights. The attorneys at the Janklow Law Firm will pursue every available option in an effort to obtain compensation owing for medical costs (past and future), lost wages as well as pain and suffering as a result of your loss. 

It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.

Mike Miller | former NBA player

The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.

Mark McNeary | Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC

Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.

Tom Geu | former Dean, USD School of Law