Lawn Mower Accidents and Injuries
Although it’s safe to say that the rates of lawn mower accidents have decreased in recent decades, mowing the lawn still remains one of the most dangerous household tasks. In the United States an average of 13 children per day end up going to the ER because of a lawn mower-related injury, and according to the United States’ Consumer Products Safety Commission there are more than 80,000 emergency room visits per year nationwide due to lawn mower injuries.
Here in Canada the problem with lawn mower accidents isn’t much better. What we are going to discuss on this page will include common types of injuries, failing mower safety features, and prevention methods. By going through all of this information you’ll be much more prepared for handling any kind of lawn mower-related injury, as well as preventing the chances of this kind of injury happening to you or a loved one in the future.
Common Types of Lawn Mower Injuries
In Canada, by far the most common types of lawn mower injuries include lacerations or cuts (32%) and amputation (16%), according to data that was collected by Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP). This study also found that one of the most common lawn mower-related injuries involved an individual tripping or slipping underneath an active mower (23%). The fingers and hand are the most commonly injured part of the body, next being the leg, feet and toes.
Lawn mower injuries tend to be very serious, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission compiled statistics in 2009 finding that just about 20,000 people were killed by lawnmowers and about 300,000 were injured that year in the United States.
One of the most shocking aspects of CHIRPP’s Canadian study was that they found that 48% of all Canadian patients were 15-years-old and younger, which seems extremely high considering the common safety precaution of keeping young children away from mowers. But the ways in which children are injured by lawn mowers tend to vary by age.
Children five and younger are more likely to touch hot surfaces or are injured in back-over incidents as a bystander, and about 70% of Canadian patients under a year old were burn victims who touched a hot engine or muffler.
Children between the ages of 5-17 were more likely to be struck or cut by a lawn mower, or some kind of projectile, and the overall rates of amputations and burns increases as children get older and handle more mowing responsibilities.
It’s very sad that these children end up suffering a permanently debilitating injury from an incident with a running lawn mower that is totally preventable. Some of the common scenarios where injuries occur include a child falling off a ride-on mower, a back-over incident in which a mower operator doesn’t check behind them before going in reverse, a child handling a mower who is too young, and debris being thrown from the mower and striking a bystander. It’s also crucial to understand bystanders and passengers are four times more likely to be admitted to hospitals than operators of lawn mowers.
Failing Mower Safety Features
There are many lawn mower safety features that are supposed to help operators and bystanders from incurring an injury. Although there have been advancements in safety technology these improvements have clearly not been sufficient enough considering the large number of personal injury cases each year involving mower-related injuries. Some safety features in lawn mowers that still need a lot of improvements include the following:
- Dead-man’s switch — This is a safety feature in both push and ride-on mowers. It is a switch that stops the mower and cutting blade when operator control is lost. In most push mowers the dead-man’s switch is on the hand bar, which must be pressed down in order to avoid the kill switch from stopping the mower’s engine. In ride-on mowers this switch is usually in the seat and will activate if the mower operator falls or steps off the driver’s seat. Many times there are issues with ride-on mowers in terms of the dead-man’s switch malfunctioning. This is extremely dangerous because the blades are moving at such high rates while the operator isn’t in full control.
- Safety Shield — This is a shield that is installed around the discharge chute. The overall purpose of this feature is to prevent any kind of debris from being ejected into the air by the mower. When the safety shield isn’t properly installed or malfunctions it can create a situation in which bystanders around a yard are at a high risk of being impacted by objects at very high speeds.
- Warning Label — Every lawn mower has a warning label, and some have several on them. These labels are intended to help consumers be more aware of the dangerous parts of a mower and how to avoid certain injuries. Although warning labels are on mowers to help consumers stay safe, sometimes these labels aren’t visible enough or don’t thoroughly explain the types of precautions that need to be taken every time you mow the lawn.
Types of Injuries
Some of the main lawn mower injuries that occur because of these failing safety features include rollovers that cause all types of serious injuries, accidental amputations from moving blades or other parts, and burn injuries from an engine fire or overheating. Each one of these injuries can cause significant and life-altering disabilities. Depending on the situation there could be the potential for a personal injury claim for the mower-related injury victim(s).
There are many methods that injury prevention experts have recommended in terms of mower-related injuries, including the following:
- Experts indicate that lawn mower temperatures can hit around 240 degrees while running, so if you are in the position in which you run out of gas while mowing the lawn you should let the machine cool down before refilling the fuel. This avoids the potential for fuel related fires or burns.
- Teach and supervise teens — You shouldn’t let anyone under 12-years-old operate a push mower and no one under 16 should operate a ride-on mower. Adults should supervise and teach teens how to carefully operate a mower before they are allowed to mow the lawn on their own.
- Don’t wear flip-flops. It’s surprising how many injuries happen because the operator isn’t wearing proper footwear. It’s advised that mowers should also wear long pants, protective eyewear and hard-toed shoes.
- Kid-free zone — Kids should never ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and young children should be kept indoors while mowing. You should not allow children to play on or even near lawn mowers, even if the mower isn’t turned on.
- Clear your yard before you mow—This can help avoid incidents in which an object becomes a projectile. Objects thrown by mowers can cause serious injuries.
- It’s always safest to mow in front of you, but if it’s necessary to mow in reverse always look behind you before backing up.
Talk to a Lawn Mower Accident Lawyer in Nova Scotia to be Sure
Lawnmowers in general can create serious injuries, and there are legal issues to deal with after just about every lawn mower accident. Sometimes these issues are simple, like notifying your insurance company or filing an accident report with the police. In certain situations these accidents can result in personal injury that can take a long time to resolve.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a lawn mower accident that resulted in serious medical injuries, property damage, any kind of insurance coverage difficulties or other types of liability questions then you very well may need to consult a lawn mower accident lawyer to get advice in terms of protecting your legal rights. Contact an experienced lawn mower accident lawyer in Nova Scotia to being the process as soon as possible.