LAWNMOWER ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
days get longer and hotter and as the grass starts to
grow, more people will be taking out their mowers and
cutting their lawns. However, it is easy to forget just
how dangerous mowers can be. Every year, mowers are
responsible for thousands of injuries, many to children.
The injury rate with mowers (riding mowers
in particular) is very high, with 663,000 people needing
medical attention due to mower injuries between 1996 and
2004, and with an average injury rate among owners of
riding mowers of 2.6 injuries per 1,000 users. It is
important to remember that most people, on average over
the course of a year, use their mowers only once or
twice each month. This means that, per use, mowers are
far more dangerous than many other kinds of products,
including cars and even guns.
Injuries caused by lawnmowers can be very
serious. Many injuries are the result of people being
exposed to the whirling mower blades. These blades,
designed to cut grass, can also efficiently cut humans,
and can result in the loss of fingers, toes, and even
entire limbs. Some people suffer eye injuries and blunt
trauma when debris, such as rocks and sticks, is shot
out of the mower’s discharge chute at 170 miles per
hour; others are burned on exposed engine parts and
mower decks, which can get very hot when a mower is in
The most serious type of lawnmower
injury is the so‑called “backover accident.” As the name
suggests, a backover accident occurs when a lawnmower
operator backs over himself or someone else. Backover
accidents alone injure almost 600 children per year.
Although all mower accidents have the potential to be
serious, backover accidents are often the worst for
children because the operator does not see the child
behind him and rolls the mower entirely over the child.
A few years ago, the lawnmower industry
voluntarily placed a safety feature on mowers, called
the “no‑mow‑in‑reverse” feature. This feature
automatically disconnects the mower’s blades when the
mower is put into reverse, in theory eliminating the
possibility of a backover accident. The problem is that
the mower industry also added a feature that allows
mower operators to override this safety feature and
continue to mow in reverse. It is also possible to mow
in reverse even if the operator does not override the
feature, for example, when the mower is mowing uphill
and the gears slip, causing the mower to roll
backwards—in such cases, the no‑mow‑in‑reverse feature
often does not work.
In the Courts
Lawsuits over the dangerous condition of
mowers have had mixed results. In several federal cases,
the courts have found that warnings to keep children
away from the mower were adequate and that the mower
manufacturer was therefore not liable for not installing
a no‑mow‑in‑reverse feature or for allowing it to be
overridden. Lawsuits in state courts have been more
favorable, with juries several times faulting the mower
manufacturer for the lack of some safety feature.
If you have been injured by a lawnmower, you
might have a products liability suit against the
manufacturer and others. Products liability suits tend
to be complex: The defendant usually fights such claims
very vigorously, because even one successful claim could
open the door to hundreds or thousands of other claims.
These lawsuits also tend to be highly
technical, requiring detailed evidence from design and
manufacturing experts about how the product was made
incorrectly, how it could have been done differently,
and how all of these failures caused the injury.
It is tough to go it alone. Call us. We look
forward to discussing your case and your options with
LAWNMOWER SAFETY TIPS
Although lawnmowers are very dangerous,
they can be used safely. Follow these tips to reduce the
chances of injuring someone while mowing the lawn:
When you mow, make sure that the area is
clear, especially of children.
Inspect the yard before you start, and remove
debris. A mower can shoot a stick or rock out of the chute
at 170 miles per hour, causing serious injuries.
Inspect your mower before you begin, in order
to make sure that it is in good condition and safe to
Do not mow up and down hills, as the mower
can roll backwards. Instead, mow across a hill. NEVER mow
while going in reverse.
Do not mow wet grass. Operators can slip on
wet grass, losing control of the mower.
Wear the proper safety equipment, including
long pants, long sleeves, sturdy shoes, eye protection, and
NEVER put your hand anywhere near the blades
of a mower that is running, even if you think that the
blades are disengaged.
MEDICARE LIMITS PAYMENTS FOR TREATMENT OF INFECTIONS
potentially helpful development, the federal government has
passed new rules that limit the payments Medicare will make
to a hospital to pay bills incurred in treating preventable
infections and medical errors the hospital should have
avoided. These same regulations also specify that neither
may the hospital bill the patient for this care.
Proponents of these regulations claim that
making the hospitals pay for their own mistakes will give
them a financial incentive to take steps to prevent
infections and errors that can be avoided. However, some ask
whether Medicare will be able to adequately monitor these
rules, while others ask whether these rules might endanger
patients because hospitals are unwilling to provide
high‑quality care if they know they will not be paid.
DEALING WITH AN INSURANCE
Although no one enjoys
it, from time to time it may be necessary to deal with an
insurance company, usually to make a claim. Although the
process may seem overwhelming, a few common‑sense tips will
help to prepare you.
First, read the policy. Although policy language
is often hard to understand, some states require policies to
be written in “plain language,” and, in any case, the policy
is what the insurer will look at to evaluate your claim. The
policy’s declarations page often contains a useful summary
of the coverage provided and the dollar limits.
Next, start a file. Everything related to your
claim should go into that file: the policy, letters sent and
received, notes of calls made and conversations, information
about the claim, evidence of damages, etc. Having a single
file prevents things from getting lost, and is valuable to
show what was and was not done.
When you contact the insurer, it is best to do
so in writing. While people often disagree about what was
said over the phone, the text of a letter or an e‑mail
should be clear. If you do speak with someone on the phone,
it is a good idea to immediately follow up the call with an
e‑mail, confirming what was discussed or decided.
When dealing with the adjuster, be civil. The
old saying that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar
is still true. However, being polite does not mean giving up
a valid claim. You can be firm while still being polite.
Finally, if you are unable to settle the matter
yourself, consider contacting an attorney. Lawyers speak the
same language as insurers, and hiring a lawyer shows that
you are serious and are not to be ignored. If you have kept
a good file of your communications and evidence, it will be
easier for a lawyer to help you make your claim.
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas given off by
fuel‑burning appliances such as gas heaters and
gasoline‑burning engines. CO can become deadly when these
types of appliances are used indoors or without adequate
ventilation. According to the CDC, about 500 Americans die
every year from CO poisoning not related to a house fire,
and more than 15,000 are injured.
Deaths and injuries peak in midwinter, when
heater use is highest and when houses are tightly closed.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness,
weakness, nausea, and confusion, and, because they resemble
symptoms of other illnesses, people often do not realize
they are being poisoned by carbon monoxide until it is too
In order to protect yourself against CO
poisoning, you should have your gas heating system inspected
every season. Don’t use generators or gasoline‑powered
heaters or tools inside or in an enclosed space like a
garage. Also, keep these CO‑producers away from windows and
intake vents, which can spread CO throughout the house.
Because CO is hard to detect, the best way to
protect yourself from CO exposure is to buy a CO detector.
They look like smoke detectors and will sound an alarm if CO
levels get too high. Be sure to play it safe and protect
yourself against this deadly gas.
COMMON TREATMENT TIED TO JAW PROBLEMS
According to a recent
university medical study, a drug commonly prescribed to
treat osteoporosis in women may have the unintended side
effect of causing a serious jaw disease.
The drug, called Fosamax, is made by the
pharmaceutical company Merck. It is the most common drug
prescribed to treat osteoporosis (which affects about 10
million Americans) and is one of the 20 or so most common
drugs prescribed in this country. Unfortunately, researchers
at the University of Southern California have linked its use
with a condition known as “jaw necrosis” (also known as
“ONJ” or “Dead Jaw”), which causes the jaw bone to decay.
Symptoms can include jaw pain, sores on the jaw, and loss of
teeth. The condition can be disfiguring, and is often very
difficult to treat.
According to the study, 9
of 208 people prescribed Fosamax developed jaw necrosis,
about 4% of those taking the drug. Some developed problems
even though they took the drug for only a short time.
However, Merck does not warn people of the danger and, in
fact, denies that Fosamax causes jaw necrosis.
If you have reason to suspect that you or
someone you love has been harmed by Fosamax, or know someone
who has developed jaw necrosis, call us. We can help you
determine if you have been injured or are entitled to any
CONSTRUCTION SITES = CONSTRUCTION INJURIES
Construction is one
of the largest industries in the United States,
employing over six million people nationwide, and is a
vital part of our economy. However, being a construction
worker is also one of the most dangerous occupations,
with over 8,000 people killed on jobsites every year and
thousands more injured.
The reason construction is such a dangerous
occupation is obvious: Sites where buildings are under
construction can be very dangerous. Although state and
federal regulators have passed rules intended to make
construction sites safer, there are any number of ways
for construction workers to be killed or injured:
Excavations can cave in;
Workers can fall off scaffolding and
Tools can be used improperly or can fail;
Cranes can drop loads on workers’ heads;
Exposure to loud machinery can result in
Unfortunately, suits involving injured
construction workers are often more difficult to handle than
other kinds of injury cases. An injury or death at a
construction site involves the acts of many workers employed
by different companies, each of whom is pointing at someone
else as the party responsible. The question of liability can
turn on whether a party is the property owner, the general
contractor, the subcontractor, or someone else. Because of
these complexities, it is vital to have a lawyer involved in
a construction injury case as early as possible.
KNOW ABOUT THE “NO‑ZONE”
All drivers should be aware of the “no‑zone,” the area on
the sides and rear of 18‑wheelers where the truck driver
cannot see a car. This dangerous area is easy to locate: If
you can’t see the driver of the truck in his mirror, then he
can’t see you.
The no‑zone is dangerous for two reasons. First,
if the truck driver cannot see you, he might try to pull
into your lane, causing a crash. Second, if you drive in the
no‑zone, the truck and its trailer cut off your view to the
side and reduce your view to the front, making it harder to
If you are behind a truck, stay out of the
no‑zone so that the driver can see you. If you are passing a
truck, do not linger in the no‑zone—get through it as
quickly as you can while still driving safely. Remember: No
matter who has the right of way, when an 18‑wheeler and a
car collide, the car always loses.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
The period of time following an accident is one of confusion
and uncertainty. There are many things to take care of.
Hiring a good lawyer is one of them.
Many times, people don't know where to go when
they need legal help. If you or a loved one has been injured
in an accident, call us. We will vigorously represent you
and make sure that you are justly compensated for your
injuries. That's our job.