Farming is an essential industry in the UK but is also recognised as one of the most dangerous workplaces. According to the Health and Safety Executive, agriculture has the highest rate of work-related fatalities, with an annual average rate 20 times as high as in other industries.
Farmers and farm workers are constantly exposed to potential hazards like heavy machinery, vehicles, animals, chemicals, heights and confined spaces. Farming may cause a wide range of injuries due to falls from heights or on the same level, being struck by an object or machinery accidents.
Furthermore, bad weather, noise and dust may cause several health conditions like asthma, farmer’s lung, skin diseases or cancer. The repetitive nature of the work can also lead to a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, low back pain and hand-arm vibration syndrome.
Your employer or the company you work for has the responsibility to take all reasonable measures to keep you safe from risks while working at the farm. If you suffered an injury because they breached their duty of care towards you, you might be entitled to make a farm accident claim.
Do I have a valid farm accident claim?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states the legal duties employers have towards the health and safety of their employees. They should take regular risk assessments to identify risks within the workplace and take all reasonable measures to remove or reduce them.
Consequently, you should be able to make a farming accident claim if:
- Your employer breached their duty of care toward you
- Their negligence caused you to have an accident
- You suffered an injury or became ill as a result
Usually, you can claim farm accident compensation within three years from suffering an injury, but the time limit may vary in certain circumstances.
If you believe you have a valid farm accident claim, you should contact a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible. They will ask you for details about your injuries and how the work accident occurred to identify the liable party.
If you were not entirely responsible for your farming accident, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee agreement and work to secure the compensation you deserve. To build a strong case, you will need relevant evidence, which could include:
- Photographs of the accident scene, including the direct cause of your accident
- Pictures of any visible injuries and your recovery process
- Medical records of your injuries, treatments and interventions
- Medical reports stating any long-term or permanent effects on your health, recovery prospects and long-term medical treatments and rehabilitation you might need
- Contact details of any witnesses to your accident
- The copy of the accident report you should file with your employer.
- CCTV footage, when appropriate
- Records of the training you received when you started working.
- Detailed notes of how the accident occurred and how it affected your life
- Evidence of any out of pocket expenses you incurred because of your accident
When your farm accident claim is ready, your solicitor will send a claim notification form to the liable party, informing them of your allegations of negligence. If they admit responsibility, you can start negotiating a settlement.
Otherwise, your solicitor will issue court proceedings, and you might have to argue your case before a judge. However, this rarely happens, as over 95% of claims conclude before reaching trial.
What are the most common farm accidents?
The agriculture industry includes two main activities, the production of crop products and the production of animal products. Both divisions present numerous risks to employees, which employers should regularly work to identify and reduce or remove when possible.
There are many farming accidents for which your employer might be held responsible if:
- They failed to carry out risk assessments
- The equipment or machinery was not kept in good repair
- You did not receive adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- You were asked to operate machinery without proper training
- Your tools were faulty
- You were too tired due to a strenuous working programme
- You did not receive adequate instructions regarding your duties
- They failed to educate you about farm risks
- No first aid was available on site
According to statistics, there were 34 fatal injuries to workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry in 2020/21 and around 12,000 non-fatal injuries. The most common accidents that might lead to a farming injury claim include:
Lack of proper maintenance and repairs can lead to accidents caused by faulty machinery, vehicles or tools such as forklifts, balers, harvesters, tractors and automated equipment. The lack of guards and other safety devices for an agricultural piece of equipment may cause workers to get caught in machines and suffer severe lacerations, dislocations, crush injuries and even amputations.
Alternatively, you could make a farming injury claim if you were asked to operate machinery without receiving sufficient training. According to the Consumer Protection Act 2019, you could also claim compensation if your accident was due to a manufacturing defect.
Manual handling accidents
Carrying, lifting, crouching, pulling, and other repetitive motions can lead to minor to severe musculoskeletal injuries to farmers. While some mild sprains and strains may heal with rest and physical therapy, some activities may cause long-term or permanent damage to muscles, nerves and joints.
Extensive use of hand-held vibrating machinery or vehicles could cause damage to the nerves, muscles, joints and blood vessels in the arms. Extreme temperatures, wind and humid conditions can also contribute to developing conditions such as vibration white finger or carpal tunnel syndrome, which may disrupt your daily activities and cause considerable pain.
Falls on the same level or from a height
Slips, trips and falls are common farm accidents caused by wet, icy, greasy or muddy ground or tripping hazards such as cords, equipment, uneven floors and other unexpected obstacles. Proper housekeeping, lighting and foot apparel such as slip-resistant boots could help prevent many slip and trip accidents.
Many jobs on the farm also require workers to scale great heights, making falls from a height one of the most common reasons for making a farming accident claim. Aside from bruising, lacerations or fractures, falling from a height can have catastrophic consequences like spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries.
Being struck by an object
In 2020/21, being struck by a moving vehicle was the most common cause of fatal injuries in Great Britain. Moving parts of equipment, overloading vehicles, and falling objects due to inadequate stacking can cause a wide range of injuries and can be fatal.
Between 2016/17 and 2020/21, livestock accidents were the second most significant cause of fatal and non-fatal farming wounds, accounting for 16% of all accidents. You may suffer an injury due to animal kicks, trampling or bites. In addition to physical damage from biting, you may develop severe infections if the wound is not properly cleaned.
Some fatal farming accidents are linked to suffocation, drowning or asphyxiation. Between 2015/16 and 2019/20, 8 people were killed by drowning or suffocating in a pond, slurry pit, grain bin or silo.
Farming buildings also tend to have low ventilation levels, leading to a lack of oxygen and respiratory problems.
Weather and environmental conditions
Being exposed to high noise levels without proper protection can lead to hearing loss and other ear injuries. Working in the hot sun or a heated environment can cause dizziness, dehydration, cramps and stroke, which can be deadly, especially in older workers. Cold weather conditions may lead to frostbite.
Exposure to the sun, wind and dust could cause eye irritations and sensitivity, leading to long-term conditions such as cataracts and retinal damage. The inhalation of dust and spores from mouldy grain and straw leads to a common form of allergic alveolitis known as farmer’s lung.
Constant exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals can irritate the skin, mucous membranes and airways. Long-term exposure can lead to respiratory problems, skin rashes, and an increased risk of tumours, cancer and birth defects.
Regardless of how you suffered an injury, if your employer failed to take all reasonable measures to keep you safe, you might be entitled to make a farm accident claim. To find out if you have a valid case, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser.
Various statistics and reports have rated farming as the most dangerous job in the UK. If you were involved in an accident that was not your fault, an experienced solicitor could help you claim farm accident compensation.
The most common injuries caused by farming accidents include:
- Bruising due to getting struck by an object, a slip or trip or falling from a height. Minor bruising is not usually dangerous, but some bruises associated with severe injuries, including fractures and internal bleeding, can lead to life-threatening hematomas.
- Cuts and lacerations suffered after coming into contact with sharp or pointy objects or caused by impact or livestock accidents. Due to the environmental conditions of working on a farm, even minor wounds can lead to severe infections if not properly disinfected. Some lacerations could be extremely dangerous and affect underlying structures like muscles, tendons and nerves.
- Burns and scalds are not only due to fire hazards such as fuels for machines, gases created by manure or dry hay and straws. Chemicals, sun radiation, cold weather or electrocution due to poorly maintained equipment may also cause superficial to severe burns.
- Crush injuries may occur when the body or a body party becomes trapped, pinched or jammed between two objects. The most commonly injured body parts are the hands and fingers. The pressure of being crushed can cause severe muscle, nerve and bone damage that could be fatal without prompt medical intervention.
- Fractures, such as broken ribs, are common injuries caused by falls, being struck by an object and other forceful impacts. Complex fractures may require surgery and an extensive recovery period.
- Eye and hearing damage due to the harmful effect of loud noises, solar radiation, dust and chemicals farm workers are continuously exposed to.
- Sprains and strains may be caused by strenuous manual handling activities and performing repetitive movements for long periods. Accidents like falls, animal kicks or trampling may also lead to minor or severe muscle, ligament and tendon injuries.
- Amputations can be caused by crushing, severing due to machinery accidents or even electric shocks. In case of severe damage, it is not always possible to save the affected body part.
- Cancer. In 2004, 100 workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector were affected by non-melanoma skin cancer due to exposure to solar radiation.
- Farmer’s lung develops due to prolonged inhaling of dust or spores from mouldy hay and grains. Between 2011 and 2020, farmer’s lung or a similar condition led to an average of seven deaths per year among farmers and farm workers. There are substantially more non-fatal cases between farmers, as the disease rarely progresses to a life-threatening level.
- Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. According to the Health and Safety Executive, most farms have asbestos-containing materials like roof sheets, building partitions, rainwater gutters and pipes. Farm owners and tenants should assess and control the risks of asbestos exposure to workers.
This list is not comprehensive, and there are many other injuries you might suffer in a farming accident. Long-term exposure to chemicals and other particular environmental conditions can also lead to numerous severe and long-time illnesses affecting the skin, lungs, airways or other body parts.
If your employer or farm owner did not take all the necessary steps to protect your health and safety, you might be entitled to make a farming accident claim and receive compensation for your injuries.
How much compensation can I claim for a farm injury?
The farm accident compensation award you might receive depends on the type and severity of your injuries, your recovery prospects and any financial losses you incurred because of your injury.
In any personal injury claim, you are entitled to receive compensation for:
Special damages, namely all your financial losses and expenses. Financial losses could include:
- Medical charges for treatments, surgery, hospital stay and any other interventions
- Long-term medical costs for interventions, rehabilitation and medication
- Mobility or hearing aids
- Travel costs and accommodation
- Costs of care and assistance, even when provided by a family member
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Required modifications to your house or vehicle
- Costs of psychological support and counselling
- Any other related financial expenses
General damages, covering the physical and psychological trauma, which includes:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of amenity
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical and mental impairment
- Loss of a unique career
Special damages are mathematically assessed, while the compensation for general damages is awarded by referring to the guidelines published by the Judicial College. According to them, you could get:
- £1,890 to £6,870 for minor cuts and lacerations causing short-term scarring and discomfort
- Up to £91,910 for severe lacerations causing permanent, extensive scarring
- £1,000 to £138,000 for injuries to internal organs
- £12,700 to £25,350 for partial loss of hearing or moderate to severe tinnitus
- £77,430 to £120,040 for complete deafness in both ears
- £56,080 to £229,260 for severe visual impairment or blindness in one or both eyes
- £1,880 to £10,890 for minor head injuries with recovery within a few weeks
- £240,590 to £344,640 for severe head injuries leading to severe disability and a vegetative state needing full-time nursing
- £10,380 to £31,350 for severe finger injuries with complete amputation of one or more fingers
- £16,380 to £33,430 for moderately severe arm injuries causing long-lasting symptoms
- Up to £255,930 for amputation of one or both arms
- £15,320 to £46,780 for moderate leg injuries with partial recovery and increased risk of arthritis
- Up to £240,590 for amputation of one or both legs
- £13,360 to £25,220 for severe vibration white finger with year-round symptoms impacting work and daily life
- £65,710 to £118,150 for mesothelioma
- £5,000 to £16,980 for farmer’s lung with mild long-term symptoms
- £29,380 to £51,460 for farmer’s lung causing constant breathing problems
The amounts above do not take into account the award for special damages. So lost wages, medication costs, and other financial losses would be added on top of the above amounts.
Can a farm injury claim be made using no win no fee?
Most farm accident claims can be settled on a no win no fee basis. A free initial consultation with a legal adviser is usually enough for them to understand if you have a valid case and estimate the chances you will receive compensation.
If the circumstances of your accident suggest that your employer might be liable for your injuries, your solicitor will help gather all the evidence you need to build a strong case.
A no win no fee agreement is the preferred way to claim compensation for a personal injury. It provides a series of unique advantages like:
- You do not have to pay any upfront solicitor fees.
- There are no hidden charges throughout the claiming process.
- No matter the result of your claim, you do not have to cover any legal costs.
- Your solicitor will arrange a free consultation with an independent medical expert to assess the full extent of your injuries, which will serve as essential evidence in your claim.
- You receive advice and legal assistance at every step.
- If you ultimately lose the case, you don’t owe a penny to anyone.
At the beginning of the claim, your solicitor will take out After the Event (ATE) insurance in your name. This policy provides financial coverage for all the legal charges you incurred during the claiming process, and you won’t be left with any out of pocket expenses.
If you win compensation, the defendant will have to cover most of your legal fees. If your case is successful, the only deductions made from your award will be:
- Some basic charges that cannot be recovered from the other party
- The cost of the ATE insurance premium
- A success fee for your solicitor’s services
The success fee cannot exceed 25% of your compensation for general damages and past financial expenses. Your solicitor will explain this to you in detail, and you will agree to it at the beginning of your claim.
How long do I have to claim for a farming accident?
The last date you can bring a claim for a personal injury is known as the claim limitation date. Afterwards, your case becomes statute-barred, and you can no longer ask for compensation. In exceptional circumstances, a judge may decide to allow a claim beyond the claim limitation date, depending on:
- The length and reason for the delay
- The defendant’s conduct
- How promptly you acted when you learned you could make a claim
- The steps you took to collect relevant evidence
Usually, you can start a farming injury claim within three years after having an accident. This limitation date applies if your injuries become immediately apparent.
If you develop an illness or disease over an extended period, the three-year countdown begins on the date of knowledge of your injury. The date of knowledge refers to the moment when:
- You understood your injury is significant enough to take legal action
- You realised your employer is at least partially to blame for your injury
The three-year limitation date does not apply to every situation, such as:
- If a child suffered an injury on a farm, a litigation friend could make a farm accident claim on their behalf at any point before they turn 18. Afterwards, if a claim has not already been made, the victim has another three years to start a claim.
- Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a victim who lacks the mental capacity to understand the legal proceedings cannot make a farming accident claim. There is no time limit for a litigation friend to claim compensation on their behalf. The three-year countdown begins if the victim regains intellectual ability.
- If you lost a loved one due to a farming accident, you could claim compensation within three years after the date of their death.
- You might also be able to claim compensation for an accident that happened while you were working abroad. The claim limitation date can vary significantly between foreign countries, so you should contact a solicitor as soon as you decide to make a claim.
- If your accident was caused by a faulty tool or machinery, you could claim compensation from the manufacturing company within three years after the defect was discovered.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know what limitation date might apply to your case and answer any questions you may have.
Can I claim for an injury caused by livestock on a farm?
Farm animals can act unpredictably in certain circumstances, so employers and farm owners must take all reasonable measures to protect workers and members of the public from injuries. If certain animals are known to be dangerous, the owner can be held liable for any harm they might cause.
The Health and Safety Executive offers some guidelines for working with livestock:
- Lone working with livestock can be extremely dangerous and should always be avoided.
- Children should never be left alone on a farm or near livestock.
- Dangers should be clearly signposted for members of the public.
- Fences should be checked at least once a day for damage.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should never come into contact with livestock because of the risk of infections that could be passed to the baby.
- Use races, shedding gates and turnover crates to reduce the risk of injury from handling animals.
- Do not use makeshift gates and hurdles, as they will make handling more difficult.
- Never use sticks and prods to strike an animal, as it breaches welfare legislation and might agitate the animal.
If your employer neglects their legal duty to keep you safe while working on the farm, you could claim compensation for a wide range of minor to severe injuries caused by livestock. These include bites, fractures, kicking injuries, lacerations, trampling injuries, concussions or zoonotic infections.
You could also claim compensation if an unattended or escaped animal attacked you or your child while visiting a farm or the countryside. An experienced solicitor can help you identify the liable party and gather the necessary evidence to make a farm accident claim.
I am a self-employed farm worker. Can I still make a claim?
Farm workers are often self-employed on a contractor basis. Although you may be treated as self-employed for tax and insurance purposes, you are usually still under the control of an employer or farm owner and might be using the tools and equipment they supplied.
Self-employed farmers often do not enjoy all the employment rights guaranteed to permanent workers. Those responsible for hiring farmers often overlook the health and safety precautions required by the legislation and expose them to the high risks of farming.
If the working arrangements are consistent with a contract of employment, your contractor may still be liable for your accident. They should assess the risk associated with your work, provide training and implement the necessary measures to keep you safe and avoid any severe accidents.