If you are a farm or ranch workers in New Mexico, you now are covered under New Mexico Worker's Compensation Act (WCA). Here is what that means for farm and ranch workers.
The New Mexico Worker's Compensation Act has been around in some form or another since 1929. In the beginning, farmer workers were not specifically excluded from worker's compensation benefits based on the language of the law. However, in 1937, farm and ranch workers were specifically excluded from being categorized as an extra-hazardous occupation or receiving any type of worker's compensation.
This is not something that is unique to New Mexico; many states still have laws on the books that exclude farm and ranch workers, even on industrial sized farmers, from receiving worker's compensation.
Farming and ranching are not easy work. Both jobs involve working with large, mechanical equipment that can be hazardous. Historically, employees in this industry were just expected to accept that risk, and take all the responsibility of medical care if they were injured on the job.
The New Ruling
This historical context, which has allowed not just family farms, but large industries, to avoid paying for worker's injuries in the farm industry, was formally appealed through the court system by two farm workers who were injured on the job and felt that it was unfair that they did not receive compensation. Both of these workers were employed with companies that had well over four workers, the minimum number of employees that other companies must have before they are required to carry worker's compensation insurance.
Luckily, this time around, the New Mexico Court of Appeals agreed with the case presented to them, and decided that excluding farm and ranch workers from receiving worker's compensation violated New Mexico's Constitution's equal protection law.
What This Means
The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruling means that businesses and companies that employ more than three or more workers who engage in farm and ranch work, also have to provide worker's compensation for their employee's and can no longer avoid this responsibility.
That means that if you are a farm or ranch worker, as long as your employer employs at least three people, they are now required to carry worker's compensation insurance, and that if you are injured, you can file a claim for compensation. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to an attorney who can assist you with the process.
To learn more, visit a website like http://nbolawfirm.com/.