Garage door spring accidents can cause serious injuries. They can happen if the springs on the door are defective, worn out, or improperly installed. They can often be prevented with regular door maintenance and professional installation. Victims who have been hurt can file a garage door injury lawsuit against the manufacturer or installer.
How do garage door spring accidents happen?
Garage door spring accidents can happen if the springs fail to hold up the weight of the garage door. If this happens, the door can drop suddenly. If there is someone underneath the door, this can cause a serious injury.
Garage door springs can fail if they are:
- defectively manufactured,
- worn out, old, corroded, or rusted, or
- improperly installed.
If a spring fails, the garage door can crash down. These doors are heavy, often weighing a few hundred pounds. Much of this weight is carried on the spring system. Without the support of the springs, there will not be enough to hold up the weight of the door.
To make these situations worse, some older garage door models that have glass in them were not made with shatter-proof glass. If one of these models is supported by a spring that fails, the glass door panel can break when the door falls. This can cause other injuries, as well.
There are 2 common types of springs in garage door systems:
- extension springs, and
- torsion springs.
Extension spring systems use 2 or more springs. These springs are located above the overhead garage door tracks. As the garage door descends, these springs stretch and extend, holding the weight of the door so it slides smoothly down the track. If one of these springs breaks, the door can drop unevenly and very quickly, putting people at risk, below.
Torsion spring systems only use 1 spring. This spring is bigger, and runs sideways above the garage door. The size and strength of the torsion string has to be matched to the weight of the door. When the door is closing, the spring tightens. When the door opens, it unwinds. The winding and unwinding of the spring carries much of the weight of the door as it closes or opens. If the spring breaks, though, all of that weight-carrying ability is lost.
Most new garage doors use torsion springs. They tend to be stronger and last longer. However, they can still wear out from all the heavy lifting that they do. Most garage door torsion springs have a recommended lifespan of 5 years. Doors that are used a lot or that are in a humid environment experience more wear and tear. In these cases, owners should consider a spring replacement even sooner.
How frequently do these accidents occur?
Automatic garage doors hurt more than 2,000 people every year.1 Many of these injuries are the result of broken springs. The most severe garage door injuries are frequently the result of a spring accident.
What can be done to prevent them?
There are 4 ways to prevent garage door spring accidents:
- use springs that are designed for the specific garage door,
- have the springs installed by a professional,
- regularly inspect the springs, and
- hire a professional to maintain the old spring or install a new spring.
The first way to avoid a garage door spring accident is to use the right springs for the door. Different springs have different tension ratings. These tension ratings reflect how much weight the spring can handle. If the spring’s tension rating is too low for the weight of the door, it can wear out and break.
Hiring a professional to install the garage door can also prevent accidents. Many people think that installing a garage door is a good do-it-yourself, or DIY, project. However, if the spring tension is not correct or if the spring is improperly installed, the spring may break. This can cause an accident and a serious injury.
Inspecting the springs on a garage door is also essential. Homeowners who notice the signs of a deteriorating spring can have it fixed before it breaks. If the spring has already broken, an inspection can spot the problem so the owner can arrange for emergency service before the door is used again. Sometimes, the break in the spring is visible – an extension spring may hang loose or there may be a gap between the coils of a torsion spring. Other times, the best signs of a broken or breaking spring are in the garage door. There may be a spring problem if:
- the garage door opens only a few inches before closing, again,
- the door does not open, at all,
- the door is crooked when it closes, or
- the door closes more quickly or with more force than normal.
Hiring a professional to maintain or replace the spring can also avoid a serious injury. Broken torsion springs require special equipment to repair. Homeowners who try fixing the springs, themselves, may cause the door to slam shut on them. Damaged springs are also under a lot of tension. If they are improperly detached from the door, they can lash out and hit someone. This can cause significant bruises, broken bones, or lacerations. In the worst cases, they can sever the victim’s finger or hit them in the head, causing serious injuries.
What are my options if I have been hurt?
Victims who have been hurt in a garage door spring accident through little or no fault of their own may be entitled to compensation. They can pursue that compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Some accidents happen because the garage door springs were negligently installed or maintained. In these cases, the party responsible for installing or maintaining the garage door can be held liable. While the individual garage door technician is unlikely to be able to fully compensate the victim, their employer can be sued through vicarious liability. This is why it is essential to only hire garage door repair companies that have insurance.
Other garage door accidents happen because the springs were defectively manufactured. In these cases, the victim can recover compensation from the company that made the spring through a product liability lawsuit.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: National Electronic Injury Surveillance System 2001-2020 on NEISS Online Database.