Am I covered for a lawnmower injury?

Can I be sued for a lawnmower injury?

You have got to be kidding! If a person is minding their own business and working at keeping their lawn weed and dandelion-free then how can they get sued? Can anyone come along and just sue you? Will your home insurance respond?

This is a good insurance question which needs to be looked at in regards to the day-to-day use of your lawnmower. If you do find yourself being served court papers by a processor then immediately notify your agent or broker. Your situation just may have insurance coverage.

Here are some examples of claim situations you could find yourself in because of using a lawnmower:

1. You are mowing your lawn and a rock flies out and hits the neighbour's window. It depends on which window has been hit as to how you will proceed. If it is a small window that can be replaced for under $100 you will most likely just pay for it out of pocket. You might consider using your "voluntary property damage" but you would lose your claims-free discount.

If the same rock broke a large picture window or a specialty window then you could be facing a bill of $1000 or more. Now you look at your insurance and a deductible. You would contact your broker or insurance company immediately.

A broken window needs to be quickly replaced or the hole covered up as there can be follow-up damage due to weather. Of course the broken glass is an additional hazard that has to be removed.

2. You are mowing your lawn and a rock flies out and injures someone. Whether this is an adult, child or even a pet, you could be held responsible for the injury. Medical treatment should be sought immediately unless it is apparent that the injury is minor. Your home insurer should be notified. Part of your home insurance is coverage for accidental injury to persons or property and your policy will be examined to be sure it is in force at the time of claim and whether or not coverage is triggered.

3. Your teenager has decided to work for the summer mowing lawns and doing yard work in your area. While mowing a lawn in an upscale neighbourhood he knocks over a piece of valuable garden statuary. Yes, your homeowner policy has coverage for the temporary or part time business liabilities of a minor child. Again, you would contact the insurer and file a claim.

4. Your friend has come over for a visit. He brought along his seven year-old son who is "running wild". Your lawnmower has not been put away and the child manages to sneak over and fire it up. He cuts off a finger! Guess what? Yes, you are liable. You have a duty to the safety of a guest you invite to your home. Your highest duty is to the safety of children. Buddy-boy should have been keeping a closer watch on his child but all in all it is your lawn mower. Yes, your home insurance agent or broker would be the one that you would contact about this claim.

Claims prevention

You might prevent some of these claims from occurring by some risk management. When you are using your lawnmower it is a good idea to check the area first for rocks. The streets are usually cleaned in early Spring and rocks came suddenly appear on your boulevard. Grading of lanes over the winter can also kick up rocks onto your property.

Be aware that objects can come shooting out of a lawnmower. Keep an eye on what is happening around you. You can stop mowing when a neighbour walks by with her pet poodle. Children in the area always require some extra diligence on your part.

When your teenager starts a job then it is time to have a "safety talk". Every business profits from not having claims. Large or small you need to consider work safety.

Insurance answer

Insurance is there for when something goes wrong. You wouldn't think that something as simple as mowing your own lawn could end you up in court. Do what you can to minimize your risk of ever accidentally injuring someone or something when you are doing your yard work. Know that if something does "hit the fan" then you should be calling your agent or broker.

If you have cut off your own finger or toe then you might qualify for some disability insurance or accidental death and dismemberment insurance. Talk to your health insurance broker or agent to start the claim process.