As the mowing season gets in the next few weeks, it's worth bearing in mind the fact that lawnmowers are associated with many hidden hazards and children are particularly vulnerable to injuries.
In an article last year USA Today alluded to a number of serious lawnmower accidents that left kids with injuries. Some of those injuries were very serious and led to amputations. The newspaper reported:
-- A 2-year-old girl in Florida had both of her feet amputated when her father backed over her with a riding lawn mower, theAssociated Press reported.
-- In April last year, a 4-year-old boy in Tennessee suffered severe cuts on his arms and legs after a lawn mower ran over him, the Tennessean reported.
-- A 2-year-old boy in Maryland was left with life-threatening injuries after a lawn mower he was riding with his grandfather on overturned into a stream.
Although these accidents were extreme, incidences of children being injured by lawnmowers occur more often than we may think. USA Today reported how in 2011, 3,780 kids 14 or under were among the 83,291 who were treated in hospital emergency departments for lawn mower injuries. The figures were derived from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Commission figures revealed that that when visits to doctors' offices and clinics are included in the statistics, more than 17,000 children and teens are treated for such injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Although children are particularly vulnerable to injuries, there have also been well documented cases of adults who have been injured and even killed by lawnmowers. In Jan. 2015, a federal jury in Virginia awarded $2.5 million to the widow of a man who was killed when a lawn mower manufactured by Ryobi Technologies Inc. exploded and caught fire.
The case is alarming because it suggested the presence of a fatal design fault in a lawnmower. A jury found that Ryobi, the manufacturer of the lawnmower that exploded in December 2010, fatally burning Frank Wright while he was in his yard, was guilty of negligence but did not breach an implied warranty, according to the verdict
Steven Lovejoy, an orthopedic surgeon at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, compiled a report on lawnmower injuries in 2012.
He said children are frequently hurt while riding on an adult's lap, as in the Maryland case. "People remember doing that when they were kids and think it's OK," he said.
He advises adults to "always know where your children are," because they often run up to adults while they are mowing.
USA Today carried a number of important safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups, which are important to consider as the weather improves and the grass starts growing again in South Carolina. They include:
· Never allow children under the age of 12 to operate a push mower or those under 16 to drive a riding mower.
· When children and teens are old enough to use mowers, teach them key safety steps such as wearing goggles and wearing sturdy shoes.
· Never let children to ride on mowers as passengers.
· Keep children off a lawn which is being mown.
· Look for and pick up objects such as stones and toys, before you start mowing. A lawnmower can throw them up in the air, turning them into dangerous projectiles.
· Do not pull a lawnmower backwards or ride it in reverse unless you have to. If you do mow backwards, carefully look for children behind you.
If you or a child is hurt in a lawnmower accident, an operator may be liable. Or a manufacturer could be liable for a defect that injures you. Call our Columbia personal injury lawyers at 803.938.4952.