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According to AgHealth Australia, there were 46 farm deaths reported in Australia during 2021. While there were 128 non-fatal farm injuries reported in the media in 2021, the actual number of on-farm non-fatal injuries is much higher.

Tractors and farm vehicles such as quad bikes and side-by-sides, were the leading types of vehicles causing fatalities and injuries. Injuries that occur as a result of the use of a farm-vehicle can be significant and lifelong.

The may leave the injured person unable to work, requiring intensive treatment and assistance to perform their usual activities of daily living.

An injured employee may be eligible to bring a claim under the Workers Compensation scheme, but if the injury was not suffered in connection with the employee’s work. They may still be able to bring a claim under the Compulsory Third Party scheme.

Claims under the TTP scheme involving injuries suffered while using farm vehicles are not always straightforward. This is because farm vehicles can hold a conditional registration such as a primary producer’s registration, which carries restrictions on how a farm vehicle can be used. The restrictions placed on such a registration can include:

  1. The vehicle can only be used at the instruction of a primary producer and only in connection with the working of two or more separate nearby parcels of land;
  2. The vehicle can only be operated on a road for agricultural purposes directly relating to primary production;
  3. The vehicle must not be operated at a speed exceeding 40 kilometres an hour.

What then happens when someone is injured while the vehicle is being used outside of the conditions placed on the vehicle’s registration? For example, what happens when a farm vehicle holding a conditional registration is driven to a nearby farm or football club for a social visit and an accident occurs that results in an injury to a passenger? The short answer is the claim under the CTP scheme may be rejected.

This will leave the injured person with no entitlement to bring a claim for compensation for lost earnings, the cost of medical treatment and assistance. In these circumstances, while a claim made under the CTP scheme may be rejected, the injured person may still be able to bring a claim under a public liability insurance policy of the farm owner.

These types of claims are by no means straightforward and an injured person should obtain legal advice early. As the owner of a farm vehicle, you ought to be mindful of the type of registration held for your vehicle and ensure the vehicle in question is only used for a purpose permitted by the conditional registration.

This article was published in the Stock Journal on 8 December, 2022.