In this Products Liability case, a woman’s hand was severely damaged in the belt drive assembly of her lawnmower tractor while trying to brush grass from her shoe top. The basis of the defective product claim about the lawnmower was the failure of the manufacturer to enclose or cover the belt drive assembly.
While mowing her lawn, the Plaintiff reached down to brush some grass clippings off of her shoe. Her hand became caught in the belt drive assembly, which was located below the foot rest. Plaintiff claimed that her injuries resulted from defective design of the parts of the assembly and the location of the assembly on the mower. Her attorneys argued that the dangerous part was “unreasonably dangerous” because it had no protective guard.
This hazardous part was also a breach of the tractor manufacturer’s implied warranty of merchantability. The location of the mechanism and the failure to install an appropriate guard, made the mower unsafe and unfit for its intended purpose, according to the plaintiff’s attorney.
The plaintiff and her attorney introduced an expert who testified that the lawnmower was not compliant with standards for the proper guarding of this assemble on power lawn tractors, as those standards have been outlined by the American National Standards Institute. This failure in compliance provided no shield that would prevent injuries to operators of the mowers during typical operation of the mower.
The plaintiff sustained several injuries to her hand: her middle finger was totally amputated. Her index finger was so thoroughly injured that, despite several surgical procedures intended to save the finger, it eventually required amputation.
The jury determined a 45 percent permanent impairment of the plaintiff’s right hand and a 25 percent permanent impairment of her entire body. The awarded settlement of $2,000,000 (in 1994) also included an amount for medical bills and for loss of earning capacity in the future.
Sometimes people are hurt or harmed in the normal use of a product that is somehow not in compliance with product standards for the industry. When this happens, the manufacturer is held liable for the defect in the product and for damages caused by using it.
People are hurt every day when using damaged or defective products. Some injuries are more severe than others; some injuries are life-changing and others are not. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to produce and take to market a safe product. Failure to do so, makes the manufacturer liable for harm done to a person using the product as intended by the manufacturer.
If you or a loved one has been hurt or harmed when using a damaged or defective product and through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to recover a financial award commensurate with your hurts and harms. Bettina Altizer and her team at Altizer Law, P.C. in Roanoke, VA have been helping injured people to hold manufacturers of defective products responsible for harm done by the product. If you are injured, you too can rely upon a trusted attorney to help you.