Can Agricultural Workers Make Workers’ Compensation Claims?

Working in the agricultural field can be very dangerous for many different reasons.

Often, work on a farm tends to be very physically demanding, whether you are feeding animals, farming the land, operating machinery or working in grain bins. Other dangers exist as well, with farm workers often using complicated and dangerous machinery and spending their days outdoors in the sun doing labor-intensive work that creates a high potential for accidental injury. 1401332_glass_houses_and_fields_2.jpg

Our Charlotte work injury attorneys know that farm work is very dangerous for many other reasons as well. For example, many labor laws do not extend to farm workers because of the unique environment of the agricultural industry, including the high number of family farms. Often, the lax nature of the laws can result in young workers getting farm jobs. Many agricultural jobs are also filled by undocumented immigrants searching for any type of work available.

With a workforce made up of vulnerable workers, including young workers and/or undocumented workers who need their jobs, agricultural employers often take risks when it comes to worker safety and simply count on employees being too scared or too unaware to report these violations. The relaxed attitude towards worker safety can further increase the chances of a workplace accident occurring, which is a bad thing in an already-dangerous field.

Are Agricultural Workers’ Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

When a worker gets hurt on the job, it is important for the employer to be held responsible for paying for the costs associated with the injuries. This is because employers are generally in the best position to prevent injury in the workplace and also in the best position to buy insurance and secure financial protection from the huge loss that can come from a serious workplace injury.

A worker who is injured, therefore, needs to understand how to hold an employer accountable and how to make that employer pay for the costs of the injury. In most situations, the only way for a worker to do this is to file a workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation claim is an exclusive remedy claim, which means that workers cannot sue if they are covered under workers’ comp.

Although workers’ comp covers almost every employee in North Carolina, there are special rules when it comes to covering agricultural workers. Under the laws in North Carolina, an agricultural employer is required to cover workers under workers’ compensation only if the employer has more than 10 employees. Farm workers classified as H-2a farm workers are also covered by workers’ compensation.

For those outside of this definition, it may be possible for an employer to hire workers without purchasing workers’ compensation coverage. Workers who are in agricultural jobs and who are not covered by workers’ compensation miss out on an important form of protection: a guaranteed social safety net that will pay their bills for on-the-job injuries regardless of who was to blame.

Agricultural workers not covered by workers’ compensation will have no choice but to explore other options for obtaining monetary damages from an employer after an injury. These options may include a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit brought by family members of workers who were killed on the job. It is important to have an experienced lawyer represent you in a personal injury case. However, because these claims are much less straightforward than a traditional workers’ compensation claim, you are required to prove negligence to be entitled to compensation in the wake of such litigation.

If you have been injured in a work accident, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:
OSHA Issues New Regulations for Injuries Due to Combustible Dust Explosions, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 8, 2013

New Federal Efforts To Keep Shipyard Workers Safe, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 23, 2013.

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