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Danger of Zero Turn Lawn Mowers: Understanding the Risks


Missouri Personal Injuries Specialists

Explore the risks and safety measures of zero-turn lawn mowers in this comprehensive guide. Learn about their unique features, potential hazards, and best practices for safe operation

Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien have been a trusted law firm serving Missourians for over 40 years.

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Understanding Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers

Zero-turn mowers are distinct from traditional riding mowers due to their maneuverability and speed. Research shows that what sets these machines apart from most zero-turn mowers is their ability to make sharp turns and pivot around their footprint, granting them an adequate zero-turning radius. This capability is handy for cutting grass in areas crowded with obstacles or along tight curves where precision is vital.

Here are some important considerations when it comes to a zero-turn lawn mower:

  • Speed & Control: Zero-turn mowers generally offer faster speeds than lawn tractors, making them suitable for larger areas. They are controlled by levers that adjust the rear wheels’ motors, providing responsive handling.
  • Slopes & Hills: Despite their advantages, zero-turn mowers can present safety concerns on hills or uneven terrain. Their center of gravity is crucial; on steep slopes, there’s an increased risk of tipping over, leading to severe injuries. According to the National Institutes of Health, the angle variation of joints, arm span, and age can significantly affect slope mowing safety. Therefore, careful maneuvering and proper preventive measures are critical when using these mowers on uneven terrain. 
  • Traction & Stability: The risk arises when the rear wheels, which are typically more robust, lose traction, causing the mower to slide or lose stability. Additionally, the narrow wheelbase of the front wheels can contribute to these issues.
  • Alternatives: For those tasked with maintaining a sloped yard, alternatives such as walk-behind mowers, lawn tractors, or even robotic mowers may offer safer choices. Each alternative comes with trade-offs in terms of speed and maneuverability.

At Buchanan Williams & O’Brien, we have over four decades of experience assisting clients suffering from zero-turn lawnmowers and hazards. Our commitment has always been to ensure clients recover what they are rightfully owed. If a zero-turn lawnmower has injured you or someone you know, contact us for clear, confident legal representation.

Understanding Zero Turn Lawn Mowers

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Common Accidents and Injuries

As a professional law firm with extensive experience, the attorneys at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien have seen their fair share of personal injury cases involving zero-turn lawnmowers. Understanding the common accidents and Personal Injuries associated with these machines is crucial for preventing harm and knowing when to seek legal assistance.

Risks and Accidents: 

  • Rollovers: Rollovers can occur when mowers are used on slopes greater than 15 degrees, resulting in serious injury. Therefore, the Texas Department of Insurance strongly advises that operators should avoid mowing on inclines more significant than 15 degrees, never mow sideways on a hill, and always keep the mower in gear when going down slopes to prevent free-rolling.
  • Sliding: Operating on slopes can also cause these mowers to slide, potentially leading to collisions or losing control.
  • Overturning: Turning sharply or at high speeds could lead to the mower tipping over.

Injuries from Accidents:

  • Cuts and Lacerations: Accidental contact with the blades often results from running over objects or losing mower control.
  • Trauma from Collisions: Colliding with stationary objects could cause cuts, bruises, or more severe internal injuries.

For the safety of all, especially children and pets who ride on mowers, it is essential to be vigilant and operate these machines responsibly. If you encounter an incident with a zero-turn mower, we support you with our legal experience and commitment to achieving the justice and compensation you deserve.

Common Accidents and Injuries

Confused about Personal Injuries in Missouri? We are here to answer your questions.

Safety Guidelines and Prevention

Gear Up:

 Before starting a zero-turn mower, it is crucial to wear protective gear. This includes sturdy closed-toe shoes and long pants to protect your feet and legs from flying debris. We also recommend wearing gloves and hearing protection like earplugs to safeguard against potential noise-related injury. Eye protection is non-negotiable; always use safety goggles or glasses with side shields.

Rollover Protection:

 A significant safety feature is equipping mowers with a rollover protection system (ROPS). Permanently fasten your seat belt when a ROPS is in place. This combination dramatically reduces the risk of injury in a rollover accident, which, while rare, can be fatal.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center states that ROPS (Rollover Protective Structures) effectively prevent injury or death during overturn incidents. ROPS have a staggering 99 percent effectiveness when used in conjunction with a seatbelt. Even without a seatbelt, they still provide a substantial 70 percent effectiveness.

Operational Safety:

 We cannot overstate the importance of safety measures while operating heavy machinery. Ensure that children and pets maintain a safe distance from the operational area. Keep bystanders away, as the mower can eject objects at high speeds.


 Regularly inspect your mower; check the spindles and tires for wear and proper inflation. A well-maintained machine is a safer one.

Safety Protocols for Employers:

 Enforcing safety protocols and offering a comprehensive safety training course is imperative for those who employ staff to operate such equipment. Awareness of potential hazards is crucial to prevention.

Our commitment at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien is to keep our community safe and informed. We have over 40 years of extensive experience ensuring safety is not an afterthought. If you’ve been injured due to a lack of safety protocols or equipment failure, know we are here to secure the compensation and justice you deserve.

Best Practices for Safe Operation

Safety is paramount when operating zero-turn riding lawnmowers. These powerful machines provide efficiency but can pose significant risks without proper maintenance and attention to safety protocols. At Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, we’ve seen first-hand the consequences of accidents with zero-turn lawnmowers and are committed to sharing our knowledge to prevent them.

Familiarization: Before use, familiarize yourself with the mow machine’s functions. Novices should receive proper training to understand the mower’s capabilities and controls.

Safety Measures:

  • Inspect the environment: Remove any obstacles or obstructions to prevent projectile injuries.
  • Check for wet conditions: Avoid mowing on wet terrain to maintain stability and prevent loss of control.
  • Maintain distance from danger: Keep clear of bodies of water and barriers to prevent rollovers.

Operational Safety Features: Ensure all factory-installed side safety devices and features, like the deflector shield and ROPS (Roll Over Protection System), are intact and functioning. Always use a seatbelt.

Regular Maintenance: Perform routine checks and servicing to keep the mower in optimal condition, reducing the risk of malfunctions at high speeds.

Caution: Drive at speeds suitable to the terrain, avoiding driving too fast, which can lead to accidents.

We can create safer working environments by following organizations like the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. Our commitment to safe operations is as strong as our dedication to our clients. At Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, we believe in mitigating risks for secure, injury-free lawn mowing equipment using experience.

When Accidents Lead to Legal Cases

When operating zero-turn lawnmowers, accidents can occur swiftly due to their high-speed capabilities, potentially leading to severe injuries—it’s our job to navigate the complexities of the law and secure the Employer Negligence & Workers’ Compensation our clients deserve.

In some instances, these accidents can result in legal action. For example, if an injury occurs due to a manufacturer’s flaw, a product liability lawsuit might be the course of action. Similarly, employer negligence in providing a safe working environment or adequate training can lead to workers’ compensation claims. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA Act) of 1970 mandates that employers offer a secure workplace and training, and failure to comply with these requirements can result in penalties.

Here are some concerning statistics: the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports numerous injuries from lawn mower accidents yearly. Specifically, between 2012 and 2014, hospital emergency rooms treated an average of 35,000 consumer injuries annually that were directly related to incidents involving riding mowers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also documents cases where improper use or faulty safety equipment has led to accidents, like one involving a groundskeeper fatally injured by a mower rollover. These incidents highlight the high-speed hazards of zero-turn lawnmowers and underscore the potential for serious legal repercussions.

Seeking Justice for You: Partner With Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien and Secure Your Rights Today!

At Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, we possess over 40 years of experience in personal injury cases. Our relentless pursuit of just outcomes has led to the recovery of millions for our Missouri clients. When you partner with us, we dedicate our extensive knowledge and resources to your case, ensuring meticulous investigation and vigorous representation.

Remember, you are not alone in this; we are committed to guiding you through your legal journey and are here to help uphold your rights and pursue justice.

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