Garage Door Injuries

Garage Door

John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Principal Mechanical Engineer

Garage door mishaps injure an estimated 20,000 people a year.  While there are numerous ways a garage door can cause injury to a person, the three most common are:

  • The door closing or falling onto a person
  • Fingers entrapped between panels 
  • Injuries while attempting to repair a garage door

The above scenarios could be related to a malfunction of the garage door; or could be improper use of such.  In many cases, people are injured when the door unexpectedly moves. Frequently, this is due to either the failure of a component used to balance the weight of the door or improper maintenance of the door. In other cases, injuries occur due to malfunctions of the automatic openers or are improperly adjusted doors. There could also be issues due to a modified or old opener that lacks safety features. 

When a person is injured by a garage door, the root cause of the injury is often not immediately clear. In a situation where the injured party was alone during the event, it is important to gather as many facts as possible about what they were doing just prior to the incident. Were they opening or closing the door at the time?  Was the door moving as it normally does or was something different?  Did they hear anything coming from the door prior to the incident occurring?  In addition to asking the appropriate questions, it is also important to preserve the garage door immediately after the incident occurred to allow your expert to inspect the condition of the door and connected mechanism. If immediate repair of the door is required, the condition prior to the repair should be documented and photographed. If the door is repaired, all removed parts should be identified, along with where they came from, and they should be retained after removal. The contractor providing the repair of the garage door should also submit a detailed bill indicating the work performed and parts replaced. They should document any adjustments or repairs made to automatic garage door openers when applicable. 

There are some steps you can take to prevent garage door related injuries including:

  • Clear people from the area when garage doors are moving
  • Do not duck under a closing garage door
  • Open or close garage doors fully – do not leave them in a partially open position
  • Have garage doors inspected and maintained by a qualified person regularly
  • Test automatic garage door openers as instructed by the manufacturer

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