Liability Issues if Dust Causes an Accident

Omaha World-Herald writer Paul Hammel reported recently that, “At least one legal expert expects a lawsuit to be filed in connection with last Sunday’s fatal accident that occurred in a curtain of dust near the Hampton exit on Interstate 80.

About 30 vehicles were involved in the chain-reaction crash, about 120 miles west of Omaha.

“But University of Nebraska law professor Anthony Schutz, as well as two attorneys who work in the field of agriculture law, said that such lawsuits are difficult to win.

“‘This area of law is pretty murky,’ Schutz said. ‘The standards are pretty tough to predict.'”

The World-Herald article noted that, “[An attorney involved in an earlier case], Bob Mooney of Omaha, along with Schutz, said a key issue is whether a nearby farmer or rancher was acting reasonably.

“Another key question for ag operators is whether it was ‘foreseeable‘ that their farming or feedlot practices could create a risk for others.

“‘If a guy is running a tractor that day, sees the dust and the impact, and continues … that’s more likely to generate liability,’ Schutz said, unlike a farmer who disked the soil or planted a crop a couple of days before.”

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