Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 19 January 2018

Farm Safety Month... Covering all your bases

A safety inspection should be the first step in your farm insurance strategy

Farm insurance includes elements of employer liability, public/product liability and personal accident cover
Farm insurance includes elements of employer liability, public/product liability and personal accident cover

Theresa Murphy and  John Cuddy

Most people take out insurance on their farms to protect against claims for personal injuries. Even minor injuries can result in claims of several thousand euro along with legal and medical costs also running into thousands.

The best way to protect against personal injury claims is to adhere to health and safety best practice. By doing this you will not only reduce the risk of injury occurring and the extent of any such injury, but also reduce your exposure to liability.

People who have grown up on and work on farms will be more than familiar with the danger and risk farming presents.

It is a different story with visitors, so don't take a chance and assume that everybody who comes onto your farm is aware of the dangers.

It is strongly recommended that all farmers consult with their agricultural advisors regularly on farm safety. There is a lot of free information and help available so ask around and get as much of it as you can.

Often safety signage will be free at certain times of the year so you have no excuse.

For farmers that are Bord Bia approved their inspectors will look for your farm safety statement.

Don't see this as a chore, use this as an opportunity to examine all areas of your farm for risk and danger.

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Make an assessment of the risk and make reasonable provision to protect against that risk.

This is what your insurance providers will look for in the event of an accident. That said we all know that accidents can happen.

However, finding the cause of accidents is important because insurance providers will try to find out what caused the accident so that if there is a third party (particularly one who holds valid insurance cover) or a product (the supplier/manufacturer) or some other cause of an accident they will seek to join them to a claim for personal injuries to dilute their own exposure to liability.

Farm accidents by their nature will often have multiple parties involved and insurance providers will seek to exploit this by joining any other potential defendants that might have some degree of responsibility.

This will often lead to prolonged litigation as the various parties will seek to prove the others liability.

Clauses

One of the clauses in any insurance policy will be the insurance provider's right to take any action they so wish to defend you from a claim.

While in the vast majority of cases the insurance provider and the farmer will agree on how a claim shall be defended, there are circumstances where an insurance provider may take action (such as settling a claim) that may result in a farmer having to accept liability.

This can lead to complications for the farmer and if this happens, you should contact your solicitor immediately as each case differs.

As a farm policy holder, once cover has been secured, you will generally be protected from the expenses involved in this process.  

John Cuddy is principal solicitor at Cuddy and Company Solicitors, Main St, Loughrea, Co Galway; Theresa Murphy is a barrister based in Ardrahan, Co Galway

Indo Farming