Lawn mower-related injuries can result in serious injuries that require emergency room visits, amputations, or even death, especially among children. The following article will provide you with some helpful information regarding lawn mower injuries.
Lawn Mower Injury Statistics
Lawn mower injuries are extremely common. The following section includes some notable statistics regarding the occurrences of these injuries:
- Across the United States, about 6,394 people sustain serious injuries in lawn mower accidents each year.
- There are about 35,000 lawn mower accidents per year in the United States.
- The most common lawn mower injuries are lacerations (47%), followed by fractures (22%) and amputations (22%).
- Nearly 10% of lawn mower injuries require hospitalization for surgery, at an average cost of about $37,000 per patient.
- Young children of up to four years are at a higher risk of foot or lower-extremity injuries and amputations compared to those who are 15 years old and above.
- Over 9,000 children go to the emergency room for lawn mower injuries every year.
What Kinds of Injuries Result From Lawn Mower Accidents?
Lawn mower accidents can result in the following minor to severe injuries:
- Cuts: Cuts are the most common lawn mower injuries. The sharp lawn mower blades can injure, cut the skin, or even go deeper into the muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bones. If you experience a cut from a lawn mower accident, you should lightly cover any open wounds with a clean, dry bandage or cloth. If the wound is bleeding, apply gentle, direct pressure to the wound. Raising your arm above your heart will help minimize bleeding.
- Burns: Burns from the lawn mower can happen anywhere on the body from the hot engine, gas tank, or the exhaust. These burns can damage the skin, muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bones. If you get burned, you should immediately immerse the burn in cool tap water or apply a cold, wet compress. Do this for about 10 minutes or until the pain subsides.
- Broken bones: The sharp, rotating blades of a mower can cause broken bones. In addition to broken bones, open fractures can cause serious injury to the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and increase the likelihood of infection and other complications in the wound and the bone. If you think you might have a broken bone, it is best not to move the limb until help arrives or until you can make a splint to hold the bone. If a broken bone is sticking out of the skin, do not push the bone back in.
- Amputations: Lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental partial or complete amputations. If an amputation occurs, the body part should be brought to the hospital immediately. Depending on the incident, the body part may be reattached. If possible, wrap the amputated body part in a damp bondage. Then, seal it in a plastic bag and put the plastic bag in a container with water and ice.
What Kinds of Personal Injury Lawsuits Can be Filed Based on Lawn Mower Accidents?
There are two main theories that can be used as a basis for filing a personal injury lawsuit based on lawn mower accidents, which are negligence and product liability.
When one person acts in a careless way and causes injury to another person, the legal principle of “negligence” dictates that the careless person will be legally liable for any resulting harm. In order to establish negligence in a personal injury lawsuit based on a lawn mower accident, the plaintiff (the person injured) must prove the following four elements:
- Duty: First, you need to prove that the defendant had a particular duty to you. Typically, a duty is owed to all foreseeable persons who may be injured by the defendant’s failure to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Additionally, if a defendant’s conduct (such as leaving an operational lawn mower unattended) creates a “zone of danger,” he is responsible for the resulting injuries of those within that zone of danger.
- Breach: After establishing that the defendant owed a duty to you, you will next need to establish that the defendant breached this duty. Generally speaking, this element is satisfied by showing that the defendant did not act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Using the previous example, a reasonable person would probably not leave an operational lawn mower unattended.
- Cause: After establishing duty and breach, the plaintiff must establish causation. There are two types of causation that the plaintiff must prove. First, the plaintiff must prove actual causation, meaning that the plaintiff’s injuries would not have occurred but for the defendant’s conduct. Secondly, the plaintiff must prove proximate causation, meaning that the kind of harm that the plaintiff actually suffered was within the realm of potential harms that would likely result from the defendant’s conduct.
- Damages: Damages are the final element of negligence claims; without proof of damages, there is not a valid personal injury claim. You will need to show proof of your injuries and/or any property damage. Common types of damages that may warrant filing a personal injury claim include medical costs, lost income, disability, and pain, and suffering.
Product liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of a product for any damage or injury caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts (at the top of the chain), an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner (at the bottom of the chain). There are four elements that the plaintiff must prove for a product liability claim to be successful. These elements include:
- Presence of defect: You will also need to show that the lawn mower possessed some type of defect that resulted in injury and/or property damage. There are three types of product defects:
- Manufacturing defects: A manufacturing defect is a defect that goes against a manufacturer’s intended design and makes a specific product unsafe for its intended use. An example of this would be a rat found in a can of soup. It is obvious that the manufacturer of the soup did not intend for there to be a rat in any of the soup cans. However, because the soup can no longer be used for its intended purpose, the manufacturer could be liable for this type of defect.
- Design defects: A design defect describes a product that was manufactured according to the manufacturer’s design but still presents danger for the ordinary consumer. An example of this would be a newly-manufactured brand of car that tips over when making sharp turns. The car was manufactured exactly as the manufacturer intended but is still very dangerous due to its design.
- Failure to warn/inadequate warnings: Products are required to have adequate warnings on them to alert consumers of certain risks or dangers that the product poses. If the manufacturer of a product provides inadequate warnings or fails to include warnings altogether, he can be liable if a consumer is injured after using the product. An example of this is an allergy medication that does not warn consumers that drowsiness will occur. If a consumer takes this medication and is injured while driving because the product did not warn her, the manufacturer may be liable for her injuries.
- Damages: In order to make a successful product liability claim, you will need to show proof of actual damages. This element can be satisfied by showing that the defective lawn mower caused you physical injury or property damage.
- Causation: You will need to show that your use of the defective lawn mower directly caused the injury or property damage that you are alleging.
- Proper use: If a plaintiff contributes to his own injuries (for example, by misusing the product), his damage award will be deducted. You will need to show that you were using the lawn mower properly at the time you were injured or suffered property damage.
What are Some Ways to Prevent Lawn Mower Accidents?
You can prevent some accidents by adhering to the following lawn mower safety tips:
- Before you mow the lawn, thoroughly review your mower’s instruction manual.
- Make sure that you keep your mower in good working order with sharp blades.
- Only use a mower that has protection over hot and sharp parts.
- Before you begin mowing, make sure that you pick up potential flying objects, such as stones, toys, and debris.
- When you are mowing, it is important to wear goggles, hearing protection, gloves, long pants, and sturdy shoes with closed toes.
- Do not drink alcohol or use other substances before or while operating a lawn mower.
- Do not remove any safety features or guards on switches.
- Never insert your hands or feet into the mower in order to remove grass or debris. Even with the motor turned off, the blade can still be spinning. Instead, use a stick or broom handle. Make sure that the lawn mower is turned off and the spark plug is disconnected (or that the power cord is unplugged) before attempting to remove the object.
- Never lift a mower by the bottom for transport, as the blades can cut your fingers even if they are not moving. When being moved or picked up, the lawn mower should be turned off, spark plug disconnected, and unplugged.
- Never cut grass when it is wet or damp.
- Never allow children under age 12 to operate a push mower or those under 16 to drive a riding lawn mower. Keep children off the lawn while mowing, and never have a passenger on your riding mower, especially if that passenger is a child.
- Do not pull a mower backward or ride it in reverse unless absolutely necessary.
Were You Recently Injured in a Lawn Mower Accident? Speak to an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
If you were recently injured in a lawn mower accident, the Palermo Law Group can help. We will work hard to help you prepare a strong personal injury case and will ensure that you are able to hold the liable party responsible for your injuries. Call us today at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorney.