Agriculture is the leading industry in the state of South Dakota. As fall harvest time approaches, the number of farm trucks carrying alfalfa, corn, wheat, sunflowers, and other agricultural cargo on South Dakota roads increases significantly. Farm trucks are generally very large and extremely heavy when fully loaded. They don’t accelerate, turn, or brake as smaller cars do. They also travel much more slowly than other vehicles on the road. As days grow shorter, these trucks sometimes travel after dark, when visibility is low. They might not always have the caution lights, reflectors, and reflective tape necessary to make them safely visible to other motorists.
Even if there is a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem on the truck, it could be an older sign rather than a newer, more reflective one that’s easy to see. It’s also quite possible that the driver of an agricultural truck is a farmer who’s been working very long hours to get crops harvested and maximize profits, so driver fatigue could result in a lack of attention to safety and result in a rollover, sideswipe, or left-turn truck crash. For these reasons and others, the number of agricultural truck accidents is apt to increase in the fall in South Dakota.
Common Agricultural Truck Accident Injuries
While farm vehicle crashes (FVCs) are less frequent than other accidents on South Dakota highways, the number of fatal FVCs is five times as high as the average for all accidents. If you’re lucky enough to survive a wreck with a farm truck, the differences in size and weight between your vehicle and the truck are likely to leave you with severe injuries, such as:
- Lacerations and scars
- Broken or crushed bones
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Such injuries can result in exorbitant medical bills, a long recovery period, significant lost income, diminished future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and temporary or permanent disability. You may file claims against the at-fault parties for all such damages, but their insurance companies are likely to dispute your claim or offer you a quick, low settlement to save money for their shareholders.
If you accept a low award, you cannot ask for any more compensation later, no matter how serious your injuries are or how much medical care and time off work you require. You should not, therefore, consider any such offer until you’ve consulted an attorney who can work with your doctors to determine your long-term care needs and projected expenses, put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, and evaluate your claim accurately.
In an accident between two cars, one driver or the other is likely to be fully or partially responsible for the damages resulting from the wreck: medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering.
In an accident involving an agricultural truck, however, liability could be shared by more than one party:
might have caused the accident by speeding, driving recklessly, operating while fatigued, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or ignoring traffic signs and signals. It’s also possible that the driver is just a farmer who owns a big truck, not a trained truck driver with a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The owner of the truck
who might be a different person from the driver, could be liable if the truck is not properly maintained and is unsafe to drive.
The manufacturer of the truck, a parts manufacturer, or a mechanic
could be at fault if the wreck is caused by defective equipment.
might be liable if the truck tips over due to improper loading or if cargo falls from the truck and hits a nearby car, causing it to crash.
Bad weather and poor road conditions can also increase the likelihood of a farm truck crash. Whatever the causes of the accident, if you’re the victim of a wreck caused by a farm truck, more than one of the above parties could share responsibility for your damages.
Determining the liable parties’ percentages of fault, filing claims with multiple insurers, demanding fair compensation, negotiating with different insurers for reasonable settlements, and filing multiple lawsuits, if necessary, are jobs best handled by an experienced truck accident attorney while you recover from your injuries.
Have You Been Injured in an Agricultural Truck Accident in South Dakota?
An experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate your accident to determine liability and file claims or lawsuits against multiple at-fault parties. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.