Kids Mowing Lawns

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Latest post Mon, May 28 2012 7:35 PM by OhioCP. 14 replies.
  • Sat, Aug 25 2007 10:31 AM

    Question [=?] Kids Mowing Lawns

    Wasn't sure where to ask this, thought I'd try here:

    Y'know, those 9, 10, 11 y.o. kids who go door-to-door looking for jobs mowing lawns...

    I've never hired one yet, but I'd kind of like to (I could use the help, not enough time, etc.).

    A nice-looking young lady (looked about 12) came to my door yesterday with a lawnmower in tow asking if she could mow my lawn, but before I could say, "Sure, what do you charge?" a little red flag popped into my head wondering, "If she gets injured while doing this inherently somewhat hazardous activity on my property, who is responsible?"

    I started thinking of everything I could remember about independent contractors, etc., wondered whether any of that applied to children obviously too young to enter into contracts, etc., and decided I was probably overanalyzing it.

    I said, "no thanks," and resolved to do it myself this weekend.

    But I'm just wondering: If a neighbor kid gets hurt while mowing my lawn, who is responsible? Could my homeowner's insurance policy get sued for megabucks? Etc.?

    What's the real story on this?

    Thanks!
  • Sat, Aug 25 2007 3:49 PM In reply to

    re: Kids Mowing Lawns

    I believe the simple answer is that it would be analyzed like any other negligence claim.

    The child would be classified as a business invitee upon your premises.

    If the child were hurt due to your negligence, then yes, you'd be liable. If the child were hurt due to its own negligence, then no, you would probably not be liable. Of course factoring in contributory/comparative negligence, etc.

    However, if a reasonable person would have reason to believe that the child is likely to injure itself (perhaps by being too young to safely operate a lawn mower) and you allow the child to mow your lawn unsupervised and the child gets injured, you would probably be liable.

    For example, I would not hesitate to bring a lawsuit on behalf of a 6 yr. old who was injured while a neighbor allowed them to mow the lawn unsupervised. However, I personally believe that a 12 yr. old is capable of safely mowing a lawn without supervision. Unless of course there is something about that 12 yr. old that would indicate otherwise.

    Of course, even without negligence on your part, your med pay coverage on your homeownwer's policy would compensate the chld for any injuries sustained while mowing your lawn.
  • Sun, Aug 26 2007 12:15 PM In reply to

    Ok [+0+] Thanks, That Helps. (eom)

    .
  • Sun, Aug 26 2007 12:44 PM In reply to

    Agree [=|=] re: Kids Mowing Lawns

    "Of course, even without negligence on your part, your med pay coverage on your homeownwer's policy would compensate the chld for any injuries sustained while mowing your lawn."

    Correct.

    Medical Payments coverage typically extends to "residence employees" which is likely how your insurance company would describe the child you hire to mow your lawn.

    However, Medical Payments coverage and Personal Injury Liability coverage often don't apply to:

    "any person eligible to receive benefits voluntarily provided or required to be provided under any:
    a. Workers' compensation law."

    I may be stretching the point here but if your state workers compensation laws can be interpreted as requiring a homeowner to provide workers compensation insurance for casual labor, you may end up with a hole in your coverage.

    Bottom line: There's a risk involved in hiring kids to work on your property and you were probably wise to decline.

    Ironically, you run the same risk hiring a baby sitter but the risk is much lower since the only mechanical contrivances involved are likely to just be your refrigerator and TV.


    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Mon, Aug 27 2007 8:54 PM In reply to

    • Ford
      Lawyer
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    Feedback [*=*] I'll never do it . . .

    A teenager who loses his arm or leg in a lawnmower is going to be a TREMENDOUSLY sympathetic defendant.

    I can see someone making a claim about failure to supervise.

    And state law could vary tremendously on the duty an employer owes to a juvenile employee.
  • Tue, Aug 28 2007 4:44 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: I'll never do it . . .

    I would probably only do it if the kid was using a reel hand push mower rather than a power one. Even then, I would want the kid to be at least 12 years of age.

    Of course, I have a pretty small lawn. It probably will be awhile yet before I consider hiring out that one.
  • Tue, Aug 28 2007 5:29 PM In reply to

    Agree [=|=] re: I'll never do it . . .

    I do it whenever the kid asks. He's about 13 or 14 and comes by quite a bit in the summer.

    I agree with everything you said, but I think it's really good for kids to take that kind of initiative so I choose to reward him for it.

    However, I stay outside and supervise him. I'll usually take the opportunity to do some other yard work while he mows or maybe I'll work on my truck or something. It's basically just an excuse to keep an eye on him.
  • Wed, Aug 29 2007 6:46 AM In reply to

    Agree [=|=] Yikes - thanks everybody!

    Thanks, everybody, for this interesting discussion.

    I guess it is just as complicated as I'd feared.

    Perhaps I'll hire the neighborhood kid to do some other less hazardous yard work (there's plenty of weeds to be pulled, down branches to be bundled, etc.) and I'll do the lawn mowing.

    I agree with bowenlaw, I like to see the incentive and would like to reward it. Heaven knows there are plenty of (other) kids who need cash and decide to try to obtain it by less honorable means. I'd rather employ those who want to work than spend the next unpteen years as a taxpayer paying for their rehab, juvenile justice, criminal justice, law enforcement, probation & parole, etc.
  • Fri, Feb 24 2012 3:16 PM In reply to

    • Kathy102
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    Re: Kids Mowing Lawns

    You might want to check into an umbrella liability policy.  We got one after a cautionary (true) tale from a good friend.  It only costs about $200/year, and it covers us for $1 million per claim if anyone gets hurt on our property or by us off our property for any reason, even if we are negligent.

    Friend's account:  Her good friends hired a neighbor's teenager to keep an eye on their house and water their plants while they were on vacation.  While the teenager was watering plants on their deck, the deck collapsed.  The teenager is now in a wheelchair for life.  The teenager's parents were "vicious" according to my friend and sued the couple for every penny they had or will ever have.  Now, the couple is continuing to work past normal retirment age, and are just trying to survive, where before they were looking forward to a comfortable retirement.

    Either way, it's extremely sad what happened to the teenager.  Decks do fail, and maybe the couple should have had theirs inspected.  Still, sometimes these things strike out of nowhere, and at least they could have been financialy protected.

    good luck,

     

    Kathy

  • Fri, Feb 24 2012 3:26 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Kids Mowing Lawns

    I just listened a few night ago to somebody debate that kids could NOT legally work w/o proper working papers in my state... and there are all sort of laws about kids and machinery   OUCH There goes the family farm!

    That said, my 12 year daughter made far more money  doing multiple laws than babysitting and she did that too.

    Sorry but nice answer ----I guess its safer to hire adult illegals than neighborhood kids  of a reasonable age.

    My friends 11 year old could jockey heavy equipment around a truck freight yard better than most adult employees --but we won't tell state about that that!  

    And my 11 year old daughter was for sure a better shot than I was and at 118 lbs can out bend press me. .



  • Fri, Feb 24 2012 3:33 PM In reply to

    re: Kids Mowing Lawns

    adjuster jack:
    I may be stretching the point here but if your state workers compensation laws can be interpreted as requiring a homeowner to provide workers compensation insurance for casual labor, you may end up with a hole in your coverage.

    Extremely unlikely that a kid with a lawn mowing service will be treated as an employee either for workman's comp or tax purposes.

  • Fri, Feb 24 2012 3:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Kids Mowing Lawns

    Kathy102:

    Friend's account:  Her good friends hired a neighbor's teenager to keep an eye on their house and water their plants while they were on vacation.  While the teenager was watering plants on their deck, the deck collapsed.  The teenager is now in a wheelchair for life.  The teenager's parents were "vicious" according to my friend and sued the couple for every penny they had or will ever have.  Now, the couple is continuing to work past normal retirment age, and are just trying to survive, where before they were looking forward to a comfortable retirement.

    1 - You've hitched a ride on a 5 year old thread.

    2 - You make a good point about having the proper amount of liability insurance but I have to take the story with a grain of salt since you are relaying it third hand.

    3 - If the couple had any kind of homeowners liability policy at all, the insurance company would have defended them against the lawsuit and possibly settled out of court for the policy limits if there was negligence or gone to the mat if there wasn't.

    4 - Failing to inspect is not necessarily negligence. The plaintiff would have to show that the condition of the deck was obvious so that the owners knew or should have known of the hazard.

    5 - If a large personal injury award would have potentially wiped them out, it's possible that the debt could have been discharged in bankruptcy.

    So, you see, there's a lot you and we don't know about that couple's situation, and I doubt that your friend knows the full story either.

    Still, I would encourage people to get sufficient liability limits to at least cover their assets.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Mon, May 28 2012 4:09 PM In reply to

    re: I'll never do it . . .

    I'm 12 years old and i need a job. and think lawn mowing. so i came here to see what people think. and how much should i charge?

  • Mon, May 28 2012 5:51 PM In reply to

    • LG81
      Consumer
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    re: I'll never do it . . .

    GUY WITH QUESTIONS:

    I'm 12 years old and i need a job. and think lawn mowing. so i came here to see what people think. and how much should i charge?

    Sorry, but the purpose of this forum is to provide legal information. 

    If you want to know how much you think you can charge, check around in your local area to get a feel for the going rate.

  • Mon, May 28 2012 7:35 PM In reply to

    • OhioCP
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    re: I'll never do it . . .

    I agree that you should check around your neighborhood to see what other lawn mowers charge, or what folks are willing to pay.  I have hired teens in my neighborhood at $10/hour to do odd jobs such as weeding my gardens, putting down mulch, carrying rocks for a patio extension I was building, etc.  While I personally wouldn't hire a kid to mow my grass due to the liability (as was discussed earlier in this thread)  I would gladly pay a teen to due the "non-mechanized" chores that my body complains about doing anymore.  You may want to see about possibly adjusting your business model to include these kinds of tasks to widen your market.  : )   

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