A few years ago, our Virginia personal injury law firm represented a delivery truck driver who lost his leg in a rear-end collision with a slow-moving farm vehicle. I often recall this case when I travel our main office in Virginia Beach to assist a client in northeastern North Carolina.
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My route to Edenton, Elizabeth City, Nags Head or rocky Mount takes me through the most rural part of Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach. I pass or find myself poking along behind tractors and other firm trucks, reflecting on that early-morning crash in Zuni, VA, along U.S. Route 460.
Our client was actually riding in the passenger seat of the truck when it ran into the rear of the tractor. A crew of three were aboard the farm vehicle, cruising well below the posted speed limit of 55 mph and inspecting a cotton field. Evidence collected from the scene showed that the farmworkers violated many of Virginia’s laws and regulations regarding the operation of farm vehicles on public highways.
The tractor lacked a slow-moving vehicle placard. The operator had not engaged the tractor’s emergency flashers. The tractor was not even moved as far too the right as possible. These oversights made it impossible for the driver of the delivery truck to correctly gauge the location and speed of the tractor.
The negligence of the tractor operator and farm crew created a situation so dangerous that an experienced commercial truck driver was unable to avoid crashing. As a result, an innocent person wound up having his leg amputated and faces a lifetime of disability.
Agriculture is a valuable and treasured way of life, and it is inevitable that tractors, produce trucks, reapers, and other farm vehicles that are not designed for highway use will wind up on public roads. Rules are in place to protect farm workers and everyone else, but those protections become meaningless when they are ignored.