Living and working in busy urban centers such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C., it is sometimes difficult to remember that not far from our metropolitan areas are large expanses of farmland and rural districts. As drivers ourselves, the legal staff at the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, often find ourselves in parts of Maryland that look more like the typical bucolic paintings of the early 20th century than that of a modern, high-tech society.
Still, as the suburbs outside of Maryland’s metropolitan areas have expanded beyond their original boundaries, urban, suburban and rural country lifestyles have continued to mix over the years. While many aspects of farm life are appealing to suburbanites and even some city dwellers, the mingling of farming vehicles and implements with other motor vehicles on public roads is often not very harmonious. In fact, the speed differential between a farm tractor and a much faster passenger car or commercial delivery truck can be downright dangerous when it comes to rural highway collisions.
Outside of Baltimore, there are numerous places once considered farm country that have become home to individuals who are more than willing to trade the peace and quiet of the countryside for an extra hour or so of commuting time. As a result, traffic problems have only increased due to the considerable migration of office workers from the more immediate suburbs just outside larger Maryland urban areas to parts of the state that were previously considered only farmland.
When commuters in family sedans and minivans mix with farming equipment, there are always opportunities for tragic outcomes. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we recognize the hazards that present themselves when traffic scenarios force these two worlds together on our state’s two-lane roads. In fact, farm equipment safety on public roads is an ongoing concern for both working farmers, as well as everyday commuters who now share these rural roads with them.
Oddly enough, one needn’t travel far outside the Baltimore metropolitan area to find oneself in areas that have increased incidences of farm machinery-related traffic collisions. Many of the areas that experience injury-related car-tractor crashes include the counties of Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Harford. Going east, drivers traveling through communities located in Kent, Cecil, and Queen Anne's County may also encounter instances on the road where a farm vehicle poses an accident risk.
As automobile accident attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that Maryland farmers have a legal responsibility to obey the rules of the road when they drive their farm tractors and other cultivation and harvesting equipment on public roadways. Similarly, everyday motorists are also required to follow the law when interacting with agricultural equipment that is using a Maryland roadway to move from one parcel of farmland to another.
Sadly, some drivers who are used to the quick pace of city or interstate traffic can become easily frustrated with or irritated by these much slower farm vehicles. When an impatient driver attempts to pass a slow-moving tractor, combine or hay wagon, there can be serious consequences for everyone involved. Similarly, if a farmer is traveling too fast, or not paying strict attention to the road, a bad roadway wreck is almost bound to follow.
With about 350,000 people working in some aspect of Maryland agriculture, farming and related businesses make up the state’s largest commercial industry. As well, agriculture is still the largest single use of land in the State -- just about one-third or Maryland’s square acreage was dedicated to some kind of farming in 2011, which includes most of this activity that takes place in the north-central portion of the state, as well as the upper part of the Eastern Shore. As of 2011, more than 12,500 Maryland farms boasted an average of 160 acres each.
With thousands of farms and hundreds of thousands of people employed in Maryland agriculture, it is no surprise that less than fifteen minutes’ drive outside of the Baltimore suburbs will put a motorist in contact with any number of farm tractors and planting equipment. In fact, during the harvest season most every driver who ventures only a short distance from the city will likely come face to face with a tractor or combine on a public roadway.
Unfortunately, the typical piece of farm equipment is more massive than the average passenger car; a collision at highway speeds between a heavy agricultural vehicle and a relatively lightweight compact car or minivan can result in a very bad injury accident. In fact, there are instances of fatal collisions between farming vehicles and passenger cars every year all across this country. Sometimes the farmer’s vehicle may not even be hit, but in passing the farm tractor a passenger car may run head-on into another car or truck coming the other way.
Whatever the case, automobile accidents involving farm machinery can be very complicated from a legal perspective. For this reason, Lebowitz & Mzhen recommends that anyone who is badly hurt in a traffic accident involving a piece of farm equipment should contact a qualified Maryland personal injury attorney to understand their rights under state law. The following points may come in handy should you or someone you know be hurt in a collision involving another motor vehicle or farm implement:
1) If injuries have been sustained, it is best to seek immediate medical attention first and foremost; later documentation of your specific injuries and treatments should also be done for future reference in the event of a claim
2) If a law enforcement officer does not arrive soon after the collision, call 911 to get a patrolman on the scene as quickly as possible. In this way, the police can perform a formal investigation of the accident and create a police report that properly documents the incident based on the facts
3) Make note of any important details surrounding the collision, as well as the circumstances leading up to the impact between your vehicle and the farm equipment. This should include facts such as the location of the crash, date and time of the incident, plus the road and weather conditions at the time of the wreck
4) If you have access to a camera, and are not at risk of further injury, take photos of the accident site to help document the aftermath of the event
5) Once your injuries have been tended to by a medical professional, consider contacting a qualified Maryland personal injury attorney with experience in automobile and commercial vehicle accident cases. A skilled legal expert in this area will be able to give you advice on how to pursue an injury claim; if you need further assistance to determine fault, an auto accident lawyer can investigate whether the other party exhibited negligent or reckless behavior that may have led to the crash
As accomplished car, truck and motorcycle accident attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen has helped many victims of traffic collisions recover damages following a serious roadway injury accident. Our experience as Maryland trial lawyers also gives us the skills to litigate for our clients after a personal injury lawsuit has been filed. Proper preparation of each case can also mean that an out-of-court settlement may be reached, thus avoiding a trial altogether, which itself can be emotionally draining for a plaintiff who has already suffered enough physical and psychological pain.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in collision involving another passenger car, a commercial truck, or a piece of farming equipment, our legal team is ready to help. We have years of experience in handling traffic-related personal injury cases and our highly trained staff is well-versed in Maryland insurance law. We are always ready to discuss the details of your roadway collision and to help you understand your legal options. Please call us, toll-free, at (800) 654-1949, or email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.