In a monthly podcast called Civilly Speaking, presented for the Ohio Association for Justice, Attorney Mike Rourke shares the facts about zero turn mower cases. Often used on golf courses, farms, and other large landscaping areas, these heavy riding mowers can be quite dangerous in an accident. Attorney Rourke explains that he has seen a number of cases involving zero turn mower incidents where the machine rolled, pinning the rider underneath. However, most of these detrimental, often deadly, incidents could be prevented if all mowers were designed with rollover protection.
What Are Zero Turn Mowers?
Zero turn mowers have been used for decades for commercial and residential purposes. Attorney Rourke himself had a mower for his farm when his children were younger. In fact, he recalls a day when his daughter rolled in the mower while driving on their property, but thanks to the rollover protection she sustained no injuries. Owing to his personal history with these machines, Attorney Rourke takes a special interest in these cases and is passionate about fighting for the rights of the injured and their families.
After researching the injuries and deaths caused by these mowers, Attorney Rourke discovered how startlingly common they are. Zero turn mowers are known for the ability to make hairpin turns, making them ideal for trimming and maintaining hard-to-reach places. Most of the incidents involving these mowers occurred near some source of water, where the ground sloped and the grass was likely slippery.
Significant slopes can cause these heavy mowers, which typically range between 550 – 1,250 lbs., to tip or roll over. When that happens near a body of water, even a shallow pond, it can pin the driver underneath the water and cause them to drown. Tragically, many of the fatalities caused by these mowers were the result of drownings.
Perhaps the most disturbing concept, which Attorney Rourke explains, is that these accidents are indeed preventable. Many so-called commercial zero turn mowers come with rollover protection as standard equipment, which is essentially a metal beam installed over the top of the mower. Simple in design, and rather inexpensive to make, these rollover protection bars can prevent the rider from being pinned beneath the machine, allowing them a way to get out if they should ever be thrown into a pond or other body of water and also preventing them from being crushed underneath the mower when it rolls down an incline. In all of the cases he has seen, Attorney Rourke says he has yet to face a personal injury or wrongful death case involving a zero turn mower with rollover protection. Sadly, virtually all so-called residential mowers (weights under 850 pounds) do not come with rollover protection as standard or even optional equipment making them extremely dangerous to unsuspecting consumers.
In light of the preventability of these tragedies, Attorney Rourke has filed multiple design defect claims against the manufacturer of these mowers. Thus far, all of these cases have resulted in the victims of these design defects to receive compensation for their losses. Unfortunately, the residential zero turn mower market is fiercely competitive, which has made the manufacturers hesitant to equip all of their mowers with rollover protection. Sadly, this profit- over safety approach has come at the cost of countless lives.
Get Help From An Attorney Today
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed as the result of a zero turn mower, you may have a case. Our firm, Rourke & Blumenthal, can help you file a claim in Ohio or anywhere in the United States and guide you through the legal process as you seek justice and fair compensation for your damages. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
To listen to the entire Ohio Association for Justice Podcast, click here.