What are the legal options after a farm injury?

Although those working in the farming and agricultural industry make up just 6% of the workforce in Ireland, the industry has the highest rate of fatal accidents of any other sector in Ireland.

Furthermore, those who work on farms are eight times more likely to be killed as a result of an on-farm accident.

The most common cause of death in relation to such accidents is due to tractors and farm vehicles which account for 43% of all fatalities.

Between 2011 and 2020, 45% of farmers who suffered fatal accidents were over the age of 65.

Deaths 

In the last few years, there have been a number of tragic accidents involving young children.

Worryingly, on average, 10% of those who are fatally injured each year are children.

It is especially important that children are taught about the dangers of farm machinery, equipment and vehicles so as to prevent any unfortunate accidents from taking place.

Farming accidents are a common occurrence in Ireland when compared with other industries.

If you or a family member have suffered a personal injury as a result of an accident on the farm there are several options you may wish to pursue in respect of taking legal action.

Legal action

Firstly, it is advisable that you contact a solicitor if you suffer personal injuries as a result of a farming accident and they will be able to advise you of your rights.

The type of action that can be pursued depends on the nature and extent of the injury. It is important to instruct a solicitor in relation to any claim you may wish to make or any rights you may have as soon as possible, as the relevant statute in the case of personal injury matters is two years from the date of the accident.

Typically, in cases such as these, your solicitor will send a letter of claim to the relevant parties/defendants.

Subsequent to this, you or your solicitor will make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) who are the body who deal with personal injury claims in Ireland.

This involves completing an application form and submitting relevant medical reports from your GP and appropriate specialists.

Whether you will require just a GP report or reports from specialists depends on the extent of your injuries and prognosis.

Assessment 

Once an acknowledgment is received from the PIAB, the statute stops running and the relevant respondent has 90 days to respond to the claim and as to whether they will accept the matter going to assessment.

If they consent, the matter will proceed to an assessment and the PIAB will assess your claim and potentially award damages which you may accept or reject.

If the respondent rejects the matter going to assessment or if you reject the award, PIAB will usually issue an authorisation which would allow your solicitor to issue proceedings, usually in either the circuit or district court and progress your legal claim in this way.

In cases where the farming accident resulted in a fatality, the procedure for making a claim is similar but there are some differences.

In these instances, it is likely the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will investigate the matter, there are likely to be considerations in relation to the Estate of the deceased and any claim brought is likely to be brought on behalf of dependents of the deceased.

Furthermore, it is important that farmers ensure that any lands or machinery they own are adequately insured as a protection for any accidents that may occur on the farm especially for any employees the farm may have.

For these reasons, it is strongly recommended that if you are involved in an accident while on the farm or if someone is injured on your farm that you promptly instruct a solicitor in order that they can advise you of any rights you may have.

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