Many homes have a garage as an added feature. A garage provides a homeowner with a convenient place to park their car or allows them additional space for storage. Most people do not think twice about their garage door – especially when it is working normally. However, a garage door is often the most complex and heaviest piece of machinery in a family home. These massive doors are supposed to function properly, opening and closing on demand. However, if they are not maintained or if someone is reckless around an operating door, serious and even fatal injuries could occur.
Can a Garage Door or Garage Door Spring Kill You?
Not every garage door or garage door accident is dangerous enough to cause death. However, many doors are heavy and could cause significant injuries if it falls on an individual. If someone is caught under a closing or malfunctioning garage door, it could result in fatal injuries. Garage doors could be especially dangerous when misused by young children playing with the door or unaware that one is closing.
One of the most dangerous conditions occurs when the garage door springs are defective or have deteriorated with age. The spring mechanism winds and unwinds, creating the required force to raise and lower the garage door. When a spring breaks while the door is in the closed position, it could come crashing down immediately and with the full force of 200 or 300 pounds.
Garage Door Deaths and Injuries Per Year
Your garage door might be the largest moving object in your home. These devices are capable of exerting a deadly amount of force. On average, it is estimated that somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 are injured in garage door accidents. These numbers do not reflect the injuries that are not reported or do not require medical attention at a hospital or urgent care facility. Additionally, some people, usually children, suffer fatal injuries when one of these heavy doors causes crushing injuries. If your child was injured in a garage door accident contact an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer.
What Are the Most Common Garage Door Injuries?
Garage doors cause injuries when they are not maintained, installed incorrectly, or if people are careless around them. Because of the size, weight, and mechanisms necessary to raise and lower the door, many types of preventable accidents could occur.
Being Hit By a Falling Garage Door
One of the most common and dangerous accidents occurs when a garage door falls or closes on someone. For example, a person could mistime the closing of a door or someone could forget something and turn around without realizing the door is in the process of closing. When a child is playing around the garage door, perhaps attempting to crawl through a closing door, the injuries could be catastrophic.
Fingers Pinched or Caught in the Garage Door
Another common accident occurs when someone has their fingers pinched or caught by a closing garage door. Garage doors are complicated pieces of machinery with several moving parts. If a door is made of bending slats, placing a hand on an operating door could result in fingers or a hand being pinched or crushed. Additionally, injuries could occur while someone is away from the garage door but is holding or near one of the tracks or mechanisms that control the lowering and raising of the door. Depending on the circumstances, a pinched or crushed accident could result in severe lacerations, broken bones, or amputation.
Broken Glass from Garage Door Windows
Many garage doors have glass windows. When these windows shatter, shards of glass could cause deep lacerations and cuts. Glass windows are liable to break when a door forcibly closes or during a severe storm.
Garage Door Repair and Maintenance
As mentioned earlier, you are unlikely to have a heavier or larger moving object in your home. Many people attempt to repair their garage doors without fully understanding the dangers the door and its mechanisms present. What starts as a routine Saturday morning chore could quickly turn into a devastating incident.
How to Prevent Garage Door Injuries
Many common garage door injuries could be prevented or avoided through careful conduct and regular maintenance. For example, the best way to avoid having your fingers pinched in a garage door or being hit by a closing door is to avoid behaving recklessly in the vicinity of the door. Families with small children should consider purchasing a garage door with a pinch-proof panel design.
You should have your garage door regularly inspected to avoid unwanted malfunctions that could cause unexpected and serious injuries. Basic and professional maintenance could prevent an avoidable injury. You should visually inspect your garage door monthly and have it inspected each year by a professional garage door inspector. As part of your visual inspection, you should take note of how your door operates. If a garage door is not opening and closing smoothly, it is an indication that something is wrong and potentially dangerous.
Defective springs are a common cause of garage door accidents. Springs wear out and make your door unreasonably dangerous. If your door has multiple springs, be sure to replace all the springs simultaneously to avoid one from malfunctioning in the future.
Every garage door installed since 1993 should be equipped with a second safety-reversing feature. If your garage door is older than 1993, it might be time to consider replacing the operating mechanism or purchasing a new door.
Garage doors are delicate and complex systems. It is recommended to always have your door installed and repaired by a professional. While it might seem tempting to save money by doing the work yourself, you should rely on someone with experience.
If you or a family member was injured in a garage door accident, contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer from the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to discuss your legal rights and options.