While rare, accidents involving agricultural vehicles like tractors or other farming equipment can occur, especially in more rural areas, like some parts of Texas. These accidents can often result in devastating injuries or even death.
If you were injured in a crash involving farming equipment or vehicles, you may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Our Fort Worth-area auto collision attorneys are prepared to investigate your claim to determine the liable party and seek full compensation. We do not charge any upfront fees for our services.
Below, we discuss what factors may help determine liability for a collision involving farming equipment or vehicles.
Are Farm Vehicles Allowed on Public Roadways in Texas?
Farm vehicles, like tractors, are generally allowed on public roadways in Texas. These vehicles are not allowed to travel on interstate highways, though. They are also not allowed on roads where slow-moving vehicles are prohibited.
There are certain rules tractor drivers are expected to follow while traveling on public roads. This includes:
- Obeying all traffic laws
- Displaying a “slow-moving vehicle” sign on the vehicle
- Using turn signals or hand signals to alert others of maneuvers
- Enabling lights and flashers, when necessary
Tractor drivers are also encouraged to:
- Drive in the right-hand lane
- Use caution while making left turns
- Avoid the use of front-end loaders
Agriculture workers are also generally encouraged to stay off main roadways, but when this is not possible, they are expected to use caution to avoid injuries to themselves and others. The driver of a farm vehicle whose negligent actions result in a collision may be liable for damages.
How Should Farming Equipment Be Stored When Not in Use?
The way agriculture workers store their farming equipment and vehicles when not in use can be an important factor when determining liability.
Tractors that are left on the edge of a field bordering a roadway could pose a serious hazard for drivers, especially at night or when visibility is poor due to rain, snow or fog. Drivers may collide with these unattended tractors or farming equipment, resulting in serious injury. The owner of the vehicle, or the property where it is parked, could be liable for the damages caused by the collision.
Farmers and others responsible for agricultural equipment and vehicles are expected to act in a reasonable manner to avoid an accident. This means any equipment not in use should be appropriately stored within a property and not left in the middle of the road overnight or during non-working hours.
What Are the Regulations in Texas for Farm Vehicles and Equipment?
Just like other large vehicles, tractors and other farming vehicles do have some regulations. However, these regulations may not be as extensive as commercial vehicles. For example, the operator of an agricultural vehicle may not be required to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Instead, he or she may only need a Class E Driver’s License and need to be 16 years old.
Some other regulations for farming vehicles and equipment may be more stringent when it comes to visibility. For example, these are some of the rules for lighting and flashers on tractors:
- Having two forward-facing headlights and a red taillight that burns continuously
- Taillight must be visible for 500 feet under normal circumstances and be mounted on the far-left side of the tractor
- All towed equipment must have two rear-mounted red reflectors positioned at the extreme left and right
- White or amber flashers mounted on the front
- Red or amber flashers must be mounted on the rear
- All lights must be activated while vehicle is in operation
Farmers and other agriculture workers are also required to take certain precautions when towing certain equipment. For example, ensuring the tractor and hitch pulling the weight can both withstand it.
Texas law also prohibits extra riders on tractors and farm equipment unless otherwise equipped with additional seats.
A driver or owner of farming equipment or vehicles who violates these regulations and causes a collision could be liable for the damages that result.
Can I Recover Compensation for Farming Equipment or Vehicle Crashes?
In Texas, drivers are all required to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of damages if an accident occurs. Farmers are also required to have some liability insurance in case of an accident. This means that if you were injured in a collision caused by the driver of a tractor or a negligent farm owner, you may be able to file an insurance claim to pursue compensation for your damages.
Likewise, if the driver of a vehicle is the negligent party and you are the driver of a tractor who was injured, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss the Crash
Because tractor drivers and other agricultural workers are usually employees of a business, liability for your damages may not fall directly on the person who caused the crash. Instead, the employer may be vicariously liable for your damages. This can make recovering compensation more complicated than it needs to be. If you are trying to focus on recovering from your injuries, the legal process could be unnecessary stress for you.
It may be in your best interest to work with an attorney who is prepared to file a claim on your behalf. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. There are no upfront fees for our services, and we do not get paid unless you do.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule a free legal consultation.