A wind machine is a large fan-like apparatus used in an orchard for warming the air around fruit trees to avoid freezing. For a $30,000 investment, orchard growers can give their crops a better chance of making it through a frosty winter in central California. One machine can warm the air around 12 to 14 acres of fruits by up to 4 degrees. In times past, these wind machines were thought to be dangerous, mostly due to the height that technicians needed to climb to maintain them. They do this in January and February to be ready for frosty spring temps that can drop after planting and uncovering.
Wind Machine Accident near Visalia, CA
In January 2019, a wind machine in a Tulare County citrus orchard malfunctioned. As it was being shut down, the 19-foot, 600 lb. blade vibrated and spun off from the 35 foot high post, hitting a worker who later died from internal injuries at the hospital. The owners properly expressed regret and condolences to the family and assured the public that they would investigate the incident to understand the cause and see that it never happened again.
Determining Liability for Malfunctioning Farm Equipment
A wrongful death claim can be made based on a few factors. In this wind machine case, the victim?s family attorney needs to determine whether the death occurred as a result of injuries sustained through the accident. Once that is determined, the cause of the accident is investigated. Liability could reside with the manufacturer based on Product Liability Law. In that case, the attorney needs to prove the product was defective in either the manufacturing or the design, that the defect caused the death, that it was used in a reasonable and expected manner, and that any other damages were caused by that defect. If this law is satisfactorily proven, liability could apply to the manufacturer or anyone involved in the in the sale of that defective product which causes injury. If it?s determined that the malfunction was due to lack of proper operation or maintenance of the equipment, further information would be needed to determine specific owner or operator error.
When an accident like this occurs, the authorities should be called, someone should seek medical help if possible, and then collect information about the incident as soon as possible. Taking photos of the area, the injuries, the equipment, and speaking with witnesses is part of how a good local personal injury attorney will begin their investigation. The victim?s attorney will also gather medical records, police and incident reports, interview others at the company, family members of the victim, and generally gather any valuable information that could flesh out a probable scenario. The Maison Law Firm can sort out a complicated situation to see that the victim and their loved ones are properly compensated. If you experience damages in an accident at work with any type of equipment, call us to help you sort out what you may be entitled to, so you can take care of yourself and your family.