Mechanical Engineering Experts Opine on Unsafe Riding Mower Design

Mechanical Engineering Expert WitnessThis case involves an accident in which a young child was run over by a ride on lawnmower. The 4 year old girl had been playing in the backyard of her parents’ home at the time of the accident, while her father was mowing the lawn on a popular brand of ride-on lawnmower. The model of tractor that the father was riding had a reverse mechanism that allowed the blades to continue to run even while the mower was operated in reverse. At the time of the accident, the victim’s father was backing up the lawnmower in order to navigate around a stump in the lawn. The child was behind the lawnmower when her father backed over her with the mower blades still spinning, causing significant, life-altering injuries.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have experience designing, testing, and manufacturing lawn mowers similar to the one described in this case?
  • 2. Are you familiar and/or have you dealt specifically with this brand of tractor?
  • 3. Should lawn mowers be equipped with safety mechanisms in order to prevent this kind of accident from occurring?

Expert Witness Response E-007975

I have consulting experience related to the design of riding lawn mowers. I have used this brand of mower frequently and am very familiar with them and their reputation in the market. While there are no specific regulations that I am aware of for safety equipment related to this case, it does not mean that manufacturers should not include reasonable and obvious improvements for safety. This could include back up warning lights or sounds, rear view mirrors, or blade disengagement mechanisms to prevent the blades from turning while the tractor is backed up. I am familiar with ANSI and EVAP standards and regulations as they relate to outdoor power equipment, and I have also have provided engineering direction on product design for several manufacturers.

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