The ability to maintain a beautiful, lush front lawn is a point of pride for millions of Americans. But while mowing the lawn is usually a mundane or relaxing activity, deadly accidents can occur with frightening ease when a mower or one of its components is defective. If you live in Pennsylvania and were injured while mowing your yard, you may be able to recover compensation with help from an experienced Philadelphia product liability attorney.
Lawnmower Accident Statistics: Injuries and Fatalities
A lawnmower accident may sound like a far-fetched scenario, but in fact, they occur with surprising frequency. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which issues recalls and creates standards for potentially hazardous products, estimated that more than 83,000 people were hospitalized for lawnmower-related injuries in 2011 alone. If you broaden the range to include “other power lawn equipment,” the injury count climbs by another 20,464, bringing the total to more than 100,000 estimated injuries in a single year.
People aged 25 to 64 were most likely to be injured by lawnmowers, with this group accounting for 55,529 out of the estimated 83,291 injuries that occurred in 2011 (about 67%). Men were substantially more likely to be injured than women, accounting for 65,743 injuries (about 79%) and 17,548 injuries (21%), respectively. A total of 75,549 people were treated and released, while 7,741 of the accidents resulted in death.
These figures have not improved significantly over time. In fact, despite a slightly lower number of injuries in 2014, the number of deaths actually rose. The CPSC estimated 81,108 total injuries in its 2014 report, with 72,783 being treatable while over 8,300 resulted in death.
Unfortunately, these statistics demonstrate that lawnmower injuries – and fatalities – are far more common than most people probably realize.
Common Injuries Caused by Malfunctioning Lawnmowers
There are many ways lawnmowers can cause injuries, not only to the operator, but also to children who might be playing nearby. For example, riding mowers can overturn, trapping the operator beneath and inflicting devastating, potentially fatal crush injuries. Whirling at hundreds of miles per hour, the blades of powered push mowers can instantly lacerate or amputate fingers and toes, or propel rocks through the air at high speeds like shrapnel.
While their spinning blades present the most obvious hazard, lawnmowers can also cause severe and sometimes deadly burn injuries in Philadelphia. Because the exhaust from a lawnmower can climb to hundreds of degrees, adding gasoline to the mower can lead to a fatal refueling accident. Among 27 lawnmower-related burn accidents that were examined in a study published in the Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation:
- The mean burn size was 18% of the victim’s body. (Some were as small as 1%, while others covered a full 99%).
- Two of the burns were fatal.
- Nearly all of the burns (26 out of 27) were caused by gasoline refueling.
When Are Manufacturers Liable for Defective Products?
Whether a product’s manufacturer or other parties are liable for injuries depends on how and why the injury occurred. To get an idea of why, compare the following scenarios:
- Person A gets on their riding mower, which does not have any defects, while they are intoxicated. Due to their intoxication, they are unable to operate the mower properly, resulting in an accident.
- Person B is mowing their lawn with a defective lawnmower which malfunctions during operation, slicing the operator’s foot.
Because Person A’s injuries were not in any way caused by the negligence of the manufacturer, Person A will not be able to recover compensation. By comparison, Person B was injured through no fault of their own, despite using their mower properly for its intended purpose. Unlike Person A, Person B may be able to get compensated for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, because his or her injuries would not have occurred had the manufacturer met its duty of care to the consumer by adequately designing and testing the mower for safety. However, in order to receive any compensation, Person B will still have to prove the following facts:
- The manufacturer breached its duty of care to the consumer.
- A defect of the mower or defective warning caused the accident.
- The accident resulted in damages, rather than being a harmless accident.
Do you own any of the following recalled lawnmower models?
- December 2013 – TurfMaster and TimeMaster mowers are recalled because their blades can break, causing a laceration hazard for operators as well as people nearby.
- August 2015 – Scag Liberty-Z zero-turn lawn mowers are recalled because their gas tanks can leak, creating a fire hazard.
- November 2015 – 2015 Toro TimeCutter Riding Mowers are recalled due to defective, “brittle” fuel filters, which can leak fuel and create a fire hazard.
- December 2015 – John Deere zero-turn lawn mowers are recalled due to potential fire hazards caused by leaky fuel hoses.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyer
As founder of the Wieand Law Firm, LLC, Philadelphia injury lawyer Brent Wieand has extensive experience handling claims and lawsuits involving lacerations, amputation injuries, bone fractures, facial injuries, hand injuries, foot injuries, and other serious injuries caused by gardening and lawn care products. Brent also handles product liability claims related to defective power tools and defective medical devices.
Call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206 to set up a free and confidential legal consultation. Brent can help you assess your legal situation to determine whether you might have a personal injury claim.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*