What can be done if someone is injured by a power mower due to a design defect?

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What can be done if someone is injured by a power mower due to a design defect?

My brother was getting a blackberry vine unstuck from his lawn mower. The lawn mower was turned on its side, it was not on. It is one with a automatic push start, so the engine doesn’t engage unless the handles are pushed and a key in place. He had it on its side, when he got the vine loose, the blades started rotating right away and he lost a finger. Does he have a case?

Asked on July 7, 2015 under Personal Injury, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It is certainly worthwhile to speak with a personal injury or product liability attorney. Whether he has a case or not depends on the exact situation: if the key was not in place, for example, then based on what you write, your brother would have taken all reasonable precautions (since you write that the engine cannot engage without the key) and he would seem to likely have a case. But if he'd left the key in, then the failed to take an easy safety precaution and that would substantially undercut his case. (As a general matter, the more the accident is your fault and the more you failed to protect yourself, the less money you can recover--and you may even not be able to receive any compensation.) He needs to review the specific facts of the situation in detail with an attorney. Since many of these lawyers provide a free initial consultation (your brother can inquire about this before making an appointment), there is no real downside, other than spending a little time, to having a consultation, and doing so would be well worth his while.


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