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  • Power Tools  Injuries

    Manufacturers and suppliers of power tools have a legal duty to sell safe products. Many power tools are hazardous because of improperly guarded moving parts or other design defects. Inadequate safety warnings or instructions may also render a product unsafe as product suppliers have a legal responsibility to instruct users on potential dangers that exist with the intended uses of its products and ways to avoid being injured by the products

    When a power tool is unsafe and defective, the injured user has a products liability claim against the tool manufacturer, supplier, distributor, or product dealer.

    power tool defectsWhat Are Possible Power Tool Defects?

    A defective product is one that causes injury because of a design flaw, production error, malfunction or inappropriate or insufficient labeling or instructions.

    Designers, manufacturers, and product suppliers all play a role in ensuring tools are safe for all consumers, including workers, to use. When a power tool injures someone who is using it in an expected or anticipated way one or more of the following defects could be to blame:

    • Design defect: A claim based on a design defect must prove the product is contains a hazard that makes the product unsafe. This type of defect generally involves the way a product has been “designed” and applies to the entire model product line .Someone who is injured needs to prove that an alternative design would have properly safeguarded the product. Safe alternative designs can include additional warnings, safety guards or devices, or better instructions on using the product safely.
    • Manufacturing defect: This type of defect happens during the manufacturing process. A manufacturing defect claim is based on the fact that while the product may have been appropriately designed, there was an error in making, building or assembling the product. This could be an inferior component or parts were used during the manufacturing process. This type of defect does not usually affect the entire product line.
    • Lack of or Inadequate Warnings and Instructions: product instruction. A manufacturer or product supplier can also be held responsible for selling a product without proper and appropriate warnings and usage instructions. Instructions, directions and warnings are part of product safety because they are the manufacturers way of communicating to the product users how they expect their products to be properly used and how to avoid being exposed to potential dangers and hazards that exist with the intended uses of the products.

    power tool injuriesWhat Types of Power Tools Are Prone to Defects?

    Power tools usually have many pieces and parts, many of them sharp or pointed. After all, they are often used to cut through steel, wood, fiberglass, and many other products. They also must include parts to help ensure the user’s safety, such as switches to stop the tools. All moving parts should also have fixed or interlocked guards to prevent injury.

    The following are common defective power tools:

    • Nail guns.
    • Chainsaws
    • Table saws.
    • Band saws.
    • Snowblowers.
    • Circular saws.
    • Drills.
    • Air compressors.
    • Power sanders.
    • Hoists, lifts, or jacks.
    • Welding, soldering torches.
    • Power washers.

    The following are examples of power tool defects that can cause serious injuries:

    • Cracked wheel in grinders, cutters, polishers, and buffers.
    • Damaged power cords.
    • Overheating motors.
    • Loose blades in power saws.
    • Misfiring nail guns.
    • Power jacks that are not lubricated.
    • Malfunctioning safety switches.
    • Lack of adequate safety warnings.
    • Insufficient amount of fluid in hydraulic power tools.
    • Missing safety guards on power tools.
    • Loose fittings on air compression-powered pneumatic tools.

    Many injuries and fatalities associated with power tools are preventable if manufacturers and distributors take the necessary steps to ensure that tools are not defective. They need to prioritize safety in every step of the process, from design to distribution.

    Some examples of risks associated with dangerous power tools include:

    • Chainsaws commonly used to cut down trees and large branches can cause serious injury to hands, arms, and legs when they kick back, push back, or pull.
    • Table saws use extremely sharp, fast-moving blades that can easily sever the user’s finger or hand.
    • Nail guns shoot sharp nails rapidly and with great force. They could go right through a person’s skin, soft tissue, and bone.
    • Circular saws are similar to table saws but have less stability. A defective circular saw can cause severe injuries to the hands, fingers, arms, and legs. In extreme cases, they can cause amputations.
    • Power drills can cause serious puncture wounds to the hands, arms, eyes, and other body parts. They can also cause electrocution if the person using the tool drills into a live wire.
    • Lawnmowers use sharp blades to cut grass. Common injuries associated with defective lawnmowers include cuts, lacerations, and amputations from rotating blades.

    What Types of Injuries Are Caused by Defective Power Tools?

    Defective products of any kind increase a user’s risk for serious injury, but defective power tools are extremely hazardous. An accident involving a power tool is more likely to cause severe injuries, such as:

    • Cuts and lacerations.
    • Puncture wounds.
    • Broken bones and fractures.
    • Soft tissue damage.
    • Amputations.
    • Eye injuries.
    • Hand injuries.
    • Burns.
    • Dismemberment.
    • Disfigurement.
    • Hearing loss.
    • Brain injuries.

    Who Could Be Liable for a Power Tool Defect?

    Each state has its own laws and statutes that govern product defects and liability. Claims are typically based on the legal theories of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty:

    • Strict liability: Pennsylvania adheres to strict liability laws, meaning the manufacturer or seller of a product is strictly liable for any injuries that result from a defect in the product. This type of claim protects consumers because the question of whether the manufacturer acted reasonably in the way it designed the product is not an issue. However, the injured person must prove that the injury was caused by a defect in the product, which can include design defects, manufacturing defects, insufficient warnings and instructions, or a product malfunction.
    • Negligence: In addition to strict liability, a person injured by a product can also bring a claim for negligence against the manufacturer or seller of a product. To prove negligence, one must show that a person or party acted unreasonably in the way they designed, manufactured, or sold a product that caused the injury.
    • Breach of warranty: The breach of warranty theory is based on contract law, which essentially means there is a contract between the consumer and the seller of a product. There are two types of breach of warranty claims. A breach of express warranty occurs when a guarantee or warranty that came with the product is not met, resulting in an injury. A breach of implied warranty occurs when a consumer cannot use a product for its intended purpose because of a defect. In any breach of warranty case, the plaintiff must still prove that this breach directly resulted in harm.

    What Is a Products Liability Lawsuit?

    Defective or unsafe power tools injure thousands of workers and consumers each year. Too often, injuries leave individuals disabled and unable to work, either temporarily or long term. Injuries can also affect a person’s quality and enjoyment of life and cause pain and suffering.

    When manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers put profits over the safety of people, they need to be held liable. If a product caused an injury because of an unsafe design, manufacturing defect, malfunction, or failure to provide proper instructions and warnings, the person might have a products liability lawsuit.

    Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws, companies that design, manufacture, sell, service, and rent power tools may be liable for:

    • Defective design.
    • Defective manufacture.
    • Product malfunction
    • Inadequate warnings.

    Products liability lawsuits can be brought against the power tool designer, manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or even an equipment rental or maintenance and service company. When seeking to recover compensation for injuries, a successful claim requires legal representation by an exceptionally credentialed lawyer who has the experience and resources to pursue the case thoroughly.

    A skilled litigator must prove that a product was defective, that the consumer used the product in an expected way, and that the defective product caused the consumer’s injuries. They will collect evidence, such as:

    • The product and its packaging, labels, instructions, the receipt, and any other related paperwork.
    • Photographs and video of the power tool that caused the injury, including pictures of the device, the location of the accident, clothing, gloves, or boots with blood on them, or blood on the ground or surrounding areas.
    • Photographs and videos of injuries.
    • Witness statements from friends, family members, coworkers, or anyone else who saw the defective tool malfunction and the injuries it caused.
    • Copies of medical records and bills associated with the injury, including emergency care, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
    • Proof of lost wages from being unable to return to work because of injuries caused by the defective tool. This can include the loss of regular and overtime pay, bonuses, vacation, and paid sick leave.
    • Expert witnesses are critical to a strong products liability case. These are professionals that specialize in product engineering, safety, and design. Your lawyer will bring in these experts to testify.

    It is important to note that if a power tool causes harm while an employee is using it on the job, a lawyer can pursue a third-party legal liability claim, even if the employee is receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits.

    Typical Products Liability Lawsuit Damages

    Typical products liability lawsuits settlements include compensation for:

    • Economic damages: are financial losses you suffered because of the incident and the resulting injuries. They include past, current, and future expenses. Typical economic damages include medical expenses, future and ongoing health care costs, past and current lost wages, repairs or replacement of damaged property, and other out-of-pocket costs.
    • Non-economic damages: are primarily the physical and emotional losses suffered because of the incident and injuries, include  physical pain and suffering, mental anguish including despair, anxiety and depression, scarring and disfigurement, humiliation and loses that affect a person’s quality and enjoyment of life

    What if a Defective Power Tool Causes a Death?

    If someone dies of using a defective power tool, their family can file a wrongful death lawsuit. They can seek compensation for their damages and losses, including:

    • Lost wages: Income the loved one would have made had they still been alive.
    • Job benefits: Lost benefits the injured person or the family would have received had the person remained alive, such as health care coverage.
    • Funeral expenses: The family can receive assistance for funeral and burial expenses.
    • Lost services: The family might need to pay someone for services the person performed, such as child care, lawn maintenance, or other household activities.
    • Emotional distress: Family members are entitled to a financial award to make up for the emotional stress they are experiencing because of the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one.

    Additionally, the family may also be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits if the death occurred while the employee was using a defective power tool on the job.

    Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Those Injured in All Types of Power Tool Accidents

    If you have been injured in an accident involving a power tool, reach out to one of our seasoned Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. For over 75 years, we have represented thousands of consumers and workers injured by dangerous and unsafe power tools and other products. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.