Karen Walsh: Farm accident victims or dependents are entitled to claim

A farmer who is an employer, or whose farm is open to the public, must have employer’s and public liability insurance.

If an accident is reported early, it allows for proper investigation to be carried out.

Farming has become one of the most dangerous and hazardous occupations.

It has the highest fatality rate of all economic sectors.

In addition, more than 1,000 injuries occur on farms every year.

A variety of factors result in accidents occurring in farms, such as attacks from animals, defective or misplaced machinery and equipment, collisions involving tractors, and falls from height.

If a farmer is an employer, or the farm is open to the public, the farmer is required to have employer’s and public liability insurance in place, which will cover any accidents which occur on the farm.

It is advisable that you report the accident as soon as possible to the insurance company.

If the accident is serious, or if a fatality occurs, it will need to be reported to the gardaí or the HSA (Health and Safety Authority).

If an accident is reported early, it allows for proper investigation to be carried out, and it is helpful in proving causation that any injuries suffered are arising from the accident.

In this regard, it is advisable to attend your GP or hospital on the day of the accident, or as soon as possible, if you are injured.

Under legislation, it is possible to obtain a court order that the scene of the accident is preserved as much as possible in order that accidents can be fully investigated.

Liability is investigated by the insurance companies, and they will normally make a decision then as to whether they intend to dispute fault, or admit the claim.

It may be necessary to involve a third party not covered under the employer’s or public liability insurance policy. 

An example would be if the accident occurred as a result of an injury arising out of a defective product, such as farm machinery or equipment which was manufactured by a third party.

If you have suffered an injury on a farm, it is advisable that you consult a solicitor. The procedure is that the solicitor will then write a letter of claim to the appropriate parties, and it’s advisable that you then attend a treating doctor.

If the injury is minor in nature, you would normally attend a general practitioner.

However, for more serious injuries, it is advisable you are treated by a specialist, such as an orthopaedic surgeon (depending on the nature of the injuries).

Your solicitor will ask your treating medical expert to complete a report, which will set out the injuries suffered as a result of the accident, and will often give a prognosis as to when you are likely to recover from your injuries.

The prognosis will often be contingent on whether further surgery is required.

The doctor will normally not be in a position to give a final prognosis until the injuries have settled, post-surgery.

Under Irish law, there is a limitation period, and you have two years to bring a case for personal injury to the courts.

However, before a case can be brought, an application has to be made to the Injuries Board.

Once a claim is submitted to the Injuries Board, the limitation period stops, and it begins to run again once it leaves the Injuries Board.

The Injuries Board normally assesses a claim, which can take a number of months, and it makes a decision as to whether it will offer an award.

Alternatively, they will give authorisation to issue court proceedings.

The Injuries Board does not accept certain claims, such as psychological cases.

You have the option to accept or reject the award offered.

If you reject, the Injuries Board will then give you authorisation to issue court proceedings.

Depending on the severity of the injury, and the level of damages sought, your solicitor will then decide on the appropriate court in which to sue.

The courts for bringing personal injury claims are the district, circuit and high courts.

Damages normally consist of an award for pain, suffering, and loss, and you can also claim for quantified damages arising out of an accident. An example would be loss of earnings, or medical expenses.

It is also worth noting that if you are a dependent of somebody who suffered a fatality resulting out of an accident, an action can be pursued against the wrongdoer.

This is known as a fatal injury claim.

Dependents are normally spouses or children.

A claim can be made if the dependent has suffered financial loss or mental distress as a result of the accident.

If you have suffered an accident on a farm, or if you are a dependent of somebody who has died resulting from an accident, is advisable to consult a solicitor as soon as possible, as you may be entitled to damages.

It is important that any accidents are reported immediately and the relevant insurance companies are notified.



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