Tulare County is in California’s Central Valley which has some of the most fertile farm land in the U.S. The region is home to hundreds of farms and wineries, and the roads see their fair share of farm vehicles like harvesters, tractors and combines traveling between tracts of farmland.
Each year, there are hundreds of accidents in the Central Valley from motor vehicles passing farm vehicles traveling on the region’s highways. Even though the farm vehicles typically are traveling around 25 mph or less, the injuries that result from an accident can be severe and even lead fatalities.
At Maison Law, we stand ready to help anyone injured in a farm vehicle passing accident. We understand how an accident like that can disrupt the lives of those involved and devastate them financially.
We believe that both farmers and drivers should be able to share the roads that run through the farms in the region without worrying about injuries. When someone is injured due to another’s negligence, then we stand ready to help them get fair compensation for their injuries.
Farm Vehicles on the Roadways
Farm vehicles of all types and sizes can be found on the roads in Tulare County and other farmlands in California. The state exempts “implements of husbandry” from many of the requirements for vehicles to operate on the roads.
Some of the relaxed requirements include:
- No age requirement for operator
- No driver’s license requirement
- Vehicles don’t have to be registered
- Lights and reflector requirements are relaxed
- Height and weight requirements relaxed
There are still some rules enforced:
- Amber reflector on the left front of the implement and a red reflector on the left rear at all times.
- No driver’s license required but if operator has lost a driver’s license, then he or she is prohibited form operating farm equipment on highway.
- Vehicles that exceed 120 inches can only driver 25 miles per trip.
- 30 minutes after sunset, a single red light on back and white light on front is required.
Types of Farm Equipment Passing Accidents
Farm equipment vehicles move slower than traffic causing motor vehicle drivers to pass them. This causes accidents that can be serious and deadly, and most of these accidents happen under four conditions.
Left Turn Collisions
This is the most common passing accident involving motor vehicles and farming vehicles. It happens when the farm vehicle turns left off of the road usually onto a farm or driveway. Usually the rig pulls a bit to the right so it can make a wide left turn, then a car or truck sees the shift to the right and then tries to pass and ends up slamming into the farming rig.
Some rural bridges are narrow leaving little room for vehicles to pass, yet some try anyway. Either the passing vehicle hits the farm vehicle, or if the tractor has high wheels with large lugs and the operator moves to the right to avoid the oncoming or passing car, it can climb the rail and tip over.
Other passing crashes include vehicles passing in no-passing zones, at the base of a hill or incline, in a curve or in any situation where oncoming traffic visibility is low. Either the passing car hits another car head-on or it hits the farm vehicle while attempting to avoid the oncoming car.
While technically not a passing vehicle accident, it occurs when a car comes upon a slow-moving farm rig, and doesn’t slow enough, or bails on an attempt to pass because of oncoming traffic and hits the farm vehicle from behind.
Farm Vehicle Passing Accident Liability
In all cases, the vehicle that is negligent will be the one that pays for damages. Most farm vehicles have insurance, and all drivers in California are required to have a minimum insurance policy. One of the problems farmers have is that sometimes this equipment is much more expensive then the average automobile, and the minimum property damage in California is sometimes too low to cover the damages to the farm equipment.
When this happens, then the injured party needs to talk to an attorney about finding other sources of compensation such as an umbrella policy or maybe the at-fault vehicle is owned by a company or is a government car.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer.
After any accident involving a serious injury in the Central Valley, contact attorney Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case. He believes that every client should work directly with their lawyer, get honest advice and the personalized attention to detail their case deserves.