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Who May Be Liable for an Accident Involving Tractors and Other Farm Equipment?

Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on September 23, 2022


tractor on the roadway In some rural areas, it is common to see tractors and other farming equipment on the road. This can inevitably lead to collisions. Recovering compensation for these types of accidents can be complex. One or more parties may be at fault, which makes proving liability difficult.

Fortunately, our car accident lawyers in South Bend are prepared to investigate your claim. We can discuss your legal options during a free consultation. If you choose to work with us, we do not charge you anything up front or while we work on your case.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our licensed attorneys.

Are Tractors and Farm Equipment Allowed on Public Roads?

Generally, tractors or other large agriculture equipment can be driven on state roads. However, these vehicles cannot travel on interstates. They must also display a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem to alert other drivers.

Some other regulations pertaining to agricultural vehicle drivers are less stringent than most other large vehicles. This includes the following:

  • Drivers only need to be 16-and-a-half years or older
  • Drivers do not need to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Drivers are not required to have a DOT medical certificate
  • Drivers are allowed to use hand-held cellphones (only texting is prohibited)
  • Drivers have no limits to the number of hours worked in a day or week
  • Drivers are not required to keep a logbook

Fewer regulations for agriculture vehicle drivers means inexperienced drivers may be operating large vehicles generally not intended to be driven on main roadways. A large vehicle and an inexperienced driver could spell disaster. Especially if the driver is not prohibited from using a cellphone while behind the wheel.

The regulations for agricultural vehicles like tractors and other farming equipment may also be concerning for some. Unlike tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles, agricultural vehicles that do not travel out of state are not required to have:

  • Emergency equipment
  • Annual inspections
  • Pre-trip inspections

Factors That May Help Determine Liability

One or more parties may be liable for an accident involving a tractor or other farming equipment. There are several factors that may be used to help determine liability for these types of collisions. Those factors may include:

Determining Who Was Negligent for the Collision

Some of the most common causes of accidents with tractors or other farming equipment involve:

Inclement weather resulting in slippery roads or low visibility may also increase the chances of an accident. Especially when drivers do not take additional precautions to avoid a crash.

Negligence is ultimately what determines liability. The driver whose negligent actions caused the crash should be held financially responsible for the damages caused.

This means liability may fall on the driver of a vehicle that collided with a tractor or to the driver of the farming equipment who acted negligently.

In some cases, the negligent actions of the owner of the farming equipment may be to blame for the collision. Since tractors are not required to undergo regular inspections, mechanical failure can often go undetected. It is vehicle owner’s responsibility to ensure his or her equipment is in proper working order. If it is not, and a crash occurs due to something like brake failure, then the owner of the farming equipment may be liable for damages.

Assessing Whether the Tractor or Farm Equipment Was in Use at the Time of the Crash

Another important factor is assessing whether the farming equipment was in use at the time of the collision. Sometimes farmers may improperly park agricultural vehicles on the edges of a property overnight. In rural areas with low lighting, however, a driver may not see an improperly parked vehicle in time to react and avoid hitting it.

Drivers are expected to act in a reasonable manner to avoid a crash. However, a vehicle with no hazard lights parked on the side of the road poses a serious hazard. If a crash occurs, the owner of the farming equipment could be at least partially liable for damages.

Call Us Today for Help With Your Claim

Since every case is unique, it may be in your best interest to discuss your claim with an experienced attorney who may be able to help. Our attorneys are prepared to investigate your claim to help determine who may be liable for your damages after a tractor crash.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. There are no upfront fees, and no obligation to take legal action. There is no risk to you.

Call (844) 678-1800 today.

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases

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