Hiring a Teen to Cut Your Grass?

It’s 5 p.m. on a hot summer day, and the neighbor’s kid just knocked on your door to ask if you would like him to mow your lawn for a small fee. What do you do?

For many homeowners, understanding the liability they have is key to making this decision. The National Consumer League’s 2015 report indicates that landscaping and outdoor work is among the top five most dangerous jobs for teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that about 17,000 children require emergency room care each year because of lawn mower accidents—so knowing your responsibilities is increasingly important.

Know Your Homeowner’s Insurance

If you are a homeowner, you likely have homeowners insurance, and if you don’t, you should. Find out if your policy provides liability coverage for an injury to someone doing your lawn work.

This type of coverage is for situations where someone is injured on your property because of your carelessness. Your policy may provide “medical pay” coverage if the injury was not caused by your negligence.

Some insurance policies only provide coverage for damage to your property—not an injured individual. Others cover personal injuries but exclude coverage for paid workers on the property.

Your Lawnmower

It may be the case that the neighborhood kid wants to use your lawnmower to cut your grass. Your lawnmower is covered while it is being used on your property.

Personal liability coverage only applies if the mower is being used to “service the insured’s residence.” So, do not let them use your lawnmower on someone else’s property. If there is an injury, neither your insurance policy nor the policy of the individual who owns the property will contribute to the cost of the medical bills.

Steps to Safety

There are steps that homeowners should take before they say “yes” to the neighbor’s kid.

  • Make your property safer by removing debris such as rocks, toys, and objects that could potentially become hazardous flying object.
  • Check that your insurance policy has liability coverage in general.
  • Be sure that there is nothing in the policy that would exclude an injury claim by a worker.
  • Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you understand your homeowners insurance policy.
  • Ask that the lawnmower operator wear safety goggles and closed-toe shoes.
  • Children operating a push-mower should be at least 12 years old.
  • Prohibit children younger than 16 to operate a riding lawnmower.
  • Keep all children under the age of 6 indoors when any mower is in operation.

Whenever you agree to let someone work around your home, you have a responsibility to both them and yourself. Injuries happen, so be prepared.


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