Massachusetts Attorney for Workers’ Compensation for Farm Accidents
Many states’ Workers’ Compensation rules create broad exceptions for farmworkers, agricultural workers, or seasonal workers, preventing injured farmworkers from being able to get Workers’ Compensation benefits after an accident. Massachusetts is one of the few states that requires coverage for all of these workers, meaning that Workers’ Compensation benefits should be available to you if you were hurt while working on a farm.
Our lawyers can help you get compensation for your farming injuries if you were an employee, whether you were a full-time, part-time, or seasonal worker. We can also help you get compensation if you are an undocumented worker.
Reach out to the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407 for a free case assessment from our attorneys for Workers’ Compensation for farm accidents.
Are Farmworkers and Agricultural Workers Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts?
As mentioned, Workers’ Compensation should cover farmworkers and agricultural workers in Massachusetts. Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation Act has very broad definitions, especially when it comes to the term “employee,” which broadly covers most workers in the Commonwealth, including agricultural workers. If you have any doubts as to whether you are covered, our attorneys for Workers’ Compensation for farm accidents can examine your case and help you understand your options.
Are Farmworkers Covered?
Under our Workers’ Compensation laws, all “employees” need to be covered under Workers’ Compensation insurance, except for some very narrow exceptions for housekeepers and other domestic workers. Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152 § 1 defines the term “employee” and has only a few exceptions to push certain workers outside that definition. There is no exception for agricultural workers, and Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation laws do indeed require coverage for farmworkers. Many states do not, so Massachusetts is pretty unique in requiring this coverage.
Are Seasonal and Part-Time Workers Covered?
Even in states where agricultural workers do need to be covered, employers might use exceptions for part-time or seasonal workers to avoid giving their workers Workers’ Compensation coverage. Many farmworkers are seasonal employees, getting employment based on the local growing seasons. However, Massachusetts law still requires coverage for seasonal workers and part-time workers, so it should be difficult for employers to block coverage for farmworkers.
Are Independent Contractors Covered?
Some employers try to avoid covering employees with Workers’ Compensation by deeming them independent contractors and refusing benefits to them. In most cases, farmworkers should not be considered independent contractors and must be covered as regular employees. Massachusetts’ exception for covering independent contractors only applies when the worker is doing different work than the employer. This could apply, for instance, when a farm hires an IT consultant to do something with their computers. Otherwise, that exception should not usually apply to traditional farmworkers.
Are Undocumented Workers Covered?
Massachusetts law makes no distinction between documented and undocumented workers when it comes to Workers’ Compensation coverage. That means that undocumented workers should still be able to file claims for benefits after a work-related injury.
Common Injuries for Farmworkers in Massachusetts
All kinds of injuries can happen on a farm or ranch. Under Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation rules, any injury should be covered as long as it is “work-related.” That means that injuries like cuts and scrapes should be covered, as should acute injuries from bending, lifting, and carrying. However, you might be surprised to find that other accidents are also work-related, such as the following:
Exhaustion, Dehydration, and Heat Stroke
Working outside, especially in hot weather, can be downright dangerous. If you are overworked and not given proper breaks, rest opportunities out of the sun, and water, you could be seriously injured. In some cases, heat exhaustion might not be serious enough to take you out of work long enough to qualify you for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Nonetheless, some injuries from weather and work conditions, generally, can qualify for Workers’ Compensation.
Whether you are riding in a truck to get around the farm or you are operating or working near a combine, baler, tractor, or other farm vehicle, you could be injured in an auto accident. These injuries are certainly related to your work tasks and should be covered.
Tool and Machinery Accidents
Other tools used on a farm can also cause serious injury. Even something like a lawnmower can cause permanent, disabling injuries. Other tools like tillers and mulchers, as well as some of the larger vehicle-based equipment mentioned above, can also be quite dangerous.
Infections and Disease
Working with dirt, manure, and farm animals can be a dirty job. Sometimes, small cuts and scrapes can become infected when handling any of these materials. Workers can also face infections and other diseases from unsanitary conditions. The risk of infection and illness goes up on work sites without proper lavatories, employee washrooms, and access to clean drinking water.
Repetitive Stress/Repetitive Strain Injuries
A lot of agricultural jobs require repeated bending and repetitive actions with your hands and arms. Some of these injuries have a tendency to cause soft-tissue injuries, sprains, strains, and other “repetitive stress” or “repetitive strain” injuries over time. Even though there is not necessarily one single day where you faced “an injury” in the sense of an acute injury, these injuries and conditions are still work-related.
While it might sound strange to associate farming with cancer, many chemicals, pesticides, and weed killers commonly used in agriculture have been found to be cancer-causing. After years of working with some products, agricultural workers sometimes develop cancer. If our attorneys can link your condition to the products you were exposed to at your job, then the treatment and care should be covered under Workers’ Compensation.
Call Our Massachusetts Lawyers for Workers’ Compensation for Farmworkers
If you were hurt while working as a farmworker or agricultural worker, call (617) 925-6407 for a free case assessment with our attorneys for Workers’ Compensation for farm accidents at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan.