An Indiana farmer who agreed to be interviewed as long as he could remain anonymous is still dealing with the effects of an accident that occurred on his farm months ago. He was the victim. And while he was extremely lucky to survive without permanent injury, he's embroiled in trying to settle medical claims, caught between his insurance company and the hospital that provided service. It's a story Bill Field says is repeated all too often, and is one of the often forgotten by-products of farm accidents.
Field is farm safety specialist at Purdue University. He and his staff compile statistics about farm fatalities. They also pay attention to cases where the farmer or worker survived, but where medical bills were racked up. It helps him make the point that farm accidents are costly, no matter how severe or innocent they may seem at the time.
In this case, the farmer simply drove a four-wheel ATV to the barn to get parts, and made a hasty exit from the ATV. As he did, he smacked his head on the top bar of the roll bar cage of the machine. While definitely hard and solid, it's not a huge, imposing piece of steel. In this case, it was enough to do more damage than the farmer could have imagined possible. The doctors would later tell him that it's likely the force of impact was more significant since he was jumping off at the time, rather than just stepping off.
The blow led to headaches, which eventually led him to seek treatment after a few days when the symptoms didn't go away. The cause turned out to be major damage to the carotid artery, a freak kind of condition resulting from the injury. After a life-line trip to the hospital and several stints later, the farmer returned home. He's now functioning normally, except for one problem. He's facing a tangled web of bills which he thought his insurance company would pay without him even getting involved.
That hasn't proven to be the case. Here with planting season not that far away, he's still making trips to the hospital and calls to the insurance carrier, trying to resolve whatever issues are standing in the way of payment. The claims are easily in the six-figure category.
As Filed would say, just be careful out there. Even the smallest mistake can sometimes come back to haunt you.