Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Cow dung claim costs FBD €1m

Settlement may set precedent for both farmers and contractors

Martin Ryan

FBD INSURANCE has paid out more than €1m in an insurance claim after it was alleged that livestock dung on a public road was a major contributory factor in a serious road accident.

The out-of-court settlement, which has been confirmed by FBD, arose in a claim against a Co Cork-based farmer on behalf of a young motorcyclist who was permanently incapacitated after being involved in a collision with a roadside pole.

It was alleged in the claim that the accident had, to a large extent, been caused or contributed to by the presence of cow manure on the road which, it was claimed, had been left by livestock owned by the farmer.

The judgement in this case could create a precedent for farmers and contractors using the public road for farm operations.

Ciaran Roche, FBD health and risk assessment manager, has warned that farmers and contractors may now have liability in accidents where road conditions were affected by livestock manure or deposits left on the road by contractors.

"Farmers who are engaging contractors should have an agreement as to who is responsible for cleaning up the road of any dirt that is bought out by the machinery," he said.

"Where there is no prior agreement it is possible that both parties could be held to have liability.

"The contractor could claim that it is impossible to carry out the work without bringing some mud onto the road. If the contractor was not insured, the injured party could come after the farmer," Mr Roche added.

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He insisted that placing a notice on the road could have positive or negative outcomes for farmers and contractors. For example, a 'slippery road' warning could imply that the farmer/contractor is aware that the road is being made dangerous for other road users.

He suggested that a 'mud on road' notice may be preferable, but it would not remove liability if it could be shown that sufficient care had not been taken to keep the road as clean as possible.

The onus is on the farmer/ contractor to maintain the road in a manner that does not put other road users in danger, suggested Mr Roche.

Both farmers and contractors must be conscious of the obligations and risks involved, he pointed out.

The FBD official's warning comes as contractors move into the busiest period of the silage season.

The harvest was delayed across most of the country due to the cold snap early this year but is now in full swing.

Irish Independent