In this heavily agricultural state of ours, people injured while working in agriculture were exempt from the workers’ compensation law until only a few years ago, when the legislature changed the law.  Here is the state of the law following that removal of the very broad agricultural exemption. 

First, there is still a large group of people who are exempt from compensation if they are injured while engaging in agricultural activity for money.  That group could be called “family.”  Even if paid an hourly wage to work on a farm, the following persons cannot make a claim of work injury against the farmer:  spouse*, parents, siblings, children, or step-children. 

(*note that this Code section is a bit traditional and uses the word “spouse.”  Here’s what that means.  If a male farmer has a domestic partner, though unmarried, and that partner suffers injury performing farm chores, the exemption does not apply.  What if the domestic relationship is breaking up around the time of an injury?  Could be a source of trouble for either party.  In addition, note that the children of the farmer’s domestic partner are likewise not exempt.) 

Second, some farmers incorporate their farms as a farming corporation, especially when land passes to a second or third generation in the family.  The exemption from compensation extends to the family of all officers of the farming corporation [Note—Ellis Law Offices sets up farming corporations, too.] 

Third, even if you do not fall into this definition of exempt “family,” you may be exempt from the ability to claim compensation for injury, if you are in the practice of exchanging chores with the farmer on whose land you were injured.  Some farmers buddy up and both harvest the land of one, and then harvest the land of the other, to speed the harvest.  If one of those farmers gets injured in the field of his “farming buddy” he likely cannot claim compensation. 

Fourth, other than the exemptions above, once a farmer’s payroll for non-exempt persons exceeds $2,500 in the rolling year leading up to an injury, then all non-exempt workers at that farm are eligible for compensation for work injury.  So, if you hire a neighboring high school boy to do farm chores for you, if you pay him more than $2,500/year, you will be liable for compensation if he is injured while performing your chores. 

Stay tuned for more information regarding truck drivers and workers’ compensation.

This information does not develop an attorney-client relationship and is not legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice on any estate planning.   

Author: Peter M. Sand

Ashley Allen