No one wants to be involved in a vehicle crash, but a Purdue Extension publication can help farmers prepare in the event of a collision involving one of their trucks, tractor-trailers or implements.
Farm Truck Accidents: Considering Your Liability Management Optionsguides producers through the legal and business issues they're likely to face. The 55-page publication, PPP-91, is $1 per copy or free if downloaded online. It is available through Purdue's The Education Store by visiting https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?itemID=19888 or calling toll-free 1-888-398-4636.
"This publication is built around stories I've heard from growers who have been involved in traffic accidents," said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs and the publication's lead author.
"What we've tried to do is get growers to think about their driver, the trucks and equipment that they're putting on the road and the legal structures such as trucking corporations and farming corporations. We've surrounded that information with how we can use insurance to help protect us."
Farm Truck Accidents covers the sources of liability, practicing due diligence with drivers and equipment, ways to structure a farm to survive a catastrophic traffic accident, myths about corporations, seeking advice from an attorney and buying insurance.
Corporations are a major source of misunderstanding, Whitford said. The publication lists seven common myths:
• Corporations absolve personal liability.
• Sole proprietorships and partnerships protect an individual from personal loss.
• Corporations don't require different ways of operating.
• Forming corporations means losing homestead exemptions.
• Corporations mean losing U.S. Department of Transportation farm exemptions.
• Creditors may collect half of a person's property.
• Personal shares in a corporation are protected .
Insurance is another common problem area. Most farmers have insurance, although many either don't understand their level of coverage or don't carry enough, Whitford said.
"We rely on insurance so much to assume some of our risk," he said. "What I ask growers to do is look at what's called an umbrella policy. It's relatively inexpensive insurance that provides tremendous amounts of coverage on top of what they already have, in the event of a catastrophic wreck. A $2 million to $5 million umbrella policy is not uncommon."
Farm Truck Accidents contains more than 60 color photographs, many illustrating equipment safety measures and accident avoidance practices. There also is a list of other Purdue Pesticide Programs Extension publications on farm vehicle safety and legal issues available for download or purchase.
Others contributing content to Farm Truck Accidents were Donya Lester, executive secretary of Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association and a farm wife; David Gunter, attorney with the firm Dean Mead; Jim Schrier, attorney with the firm Reiling Teder & Schrier; Jim Taflinger, an insurance consultant; and Mike Templeton, president of Surface Transportation Consultant.