Early in my career I had a Nebraska case come across my desk which involved a farm hand falling and striking his head while working on a farm truck. The farmer had not obtained a workers’ compensation policy to cover such accidents because most farms and ranches are not required to provide workers’ compensation in Nebraska. Unfortunately, the farmer had failed to have the employee sign the required notice informing the employee workers compensation was not provided. The employee then had the option to pursue a claim against the farmer under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”), which offered certain benefits to the employee.
Since that early case, I had not seen a similar case come through our firm. I came to believe most if not all farmers and ranchers were aware of the notice requirement when electing to forego workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. However, another case recently came across my desk. So a refresher on Nebraska’s worker compensation laws as applied to farmers and ranchers may be a good idea.
First, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act applies to every resident employer except to employers engaged in an agricultural operation and (1) employs only related employees; or (2) employs less than 10 unrelated full time employees.
Second, every exempt agricultural operation which does not provide workers compensation must have the employee sign the following notice
In this employment you will not be covered by the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act and you will not be compensated under the act if you are injured on the job or suffer an occupational disease. You should plan accordingly.
Third, the agricultural operation will be subject to liability under the Act if the operation fails to provide and have such notice signed by the employee.
In the event the notice is not provided and signed, an injured employee has the option of pursuing a claim against the employer under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Under the Act, the employee only has to prove he was injured while working for the employer. The employer cannot generally escape responsibility for the injury even if the employee was at fault for his injuries. Although the amount of damages the employee can recover are limited by the Act, automatic liability is a sizable advantage for any employee looking for compensation for his injuries.
Therefore, please remember to provide the notice and have it signed if you want a fighting chance to defend an injury claim from your employee.