The workers comp system is not easy to navigate under the best circumstances. For workers who are not familiar with California’s laws that are designed to protect them, or for those who may struggle with the English language, it can be overwhelming. Our workers comp attorneys at our Orange County office want to help you understand what benefits and protections are available to you.
Workers Comp for Farm Workers Statistics
Recent statistics released by the National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) indicate that there are an estimated 2.5-3 million farm workers in the United States. Approximately 73 percent of the agriculture workforce are foreign born, and 84 percent are classified as seasonal workers. Of the 14 percent who are considered as “migrating,” 27 percent are non-English speaking, with an average educational level of 8th grade.
Many work related injuries of these farm workers involve vehicle accidents both on and off the road, giving rise to workers comp cases.
It is the responsibility of owners of farms and contractors to keep their workers safe, and that means providing safe transportation and equipment. As with any other worker in California if an agriculture worker is injured on the job or in a vehicle or piece of equipment that is being used for work purposes, the injury is considered work related. This applies to injuries sustained during transporting workers to a work location or even while riding in a car for work-related reasons away from the workplace. This means that those injuries are covered by workers comp.
Migrant Seasonal Workers Protection Act (MSPA)
The MSPA was adopted to establish safety standards, address compensation, housing issues, and disclosure and record keeping practices to protect migrant workers. Under the MSPA, labor contractors must register with the U.S. Department of Labor for the purposes of monitoring for compliance.
The Migrant Seasonal Workers Protection Act (MSPA) also requires vehicles to be inspected regularly for safety.
Second Judgement Issued In Farm Worker Case
In 2017, a migrant farm worker was killed and six others were injured in an auto accident while they were being transported to a job site. An investigation into the accident showed that the death and some injuries could have been avoided – the van in question had bald tires and was missing lug nuts, and at least one seatbelt was missing. To further compound the problems, the driver of the vehicle did not have a commercial drivers’ license and was driving under a suspended personal license.
In 2018, a first judgment was entered in the case, requiring the owner of the farm – Fisher Ranch LLC of Blythe, California – to pay $49,104 in civil penalties due to their failure to ensure that Healthy Harvesting, its labor contractor, provided safe modes of transportation for its workers.
Then, the US Department of Labor announced that a second judgement was entered by the US District Court for the Central District of California against the labor contracting company and its president in the amount of $79,153 in civil penalties for violations of the MSPA.
In addition to the monetary penalties, both Fisher Ranch and Healthy Harvest are required to post information about the MSPA regulations for anyone who works for them. They must also provide comprehensive training for supervisors and managers in compliance with the MSPA, and hire an independent compliance monitor to ensure they follow through with their responsibilities.
Our Orange County workers comp attorneys are well versed in how California’s workers comp laws apply to farm workers. We can help you understand how these laws affect you, and what benefits are available to you if you get injured on the job. Give us a call today to set up a consultation, and as always, your first consultation is free.
Farm Workers Comp Attorneys – Orange County
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers comp attorney immediately. Even if you are currently receiving workers comp benefits, it is a good idea to get some legal advice to protect your rights going into the future.
An experienced workers comp attorney can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems – and make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our lawyers will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.