The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets stringent guidelines for ladder safety requirements because more than half a million Americans incur accidents involving ladders every year. According to OSHA, all ladders, including stepladders and extension ladders, should undergo inspection before using. Overall, ladders should undergo inspection for loose rungs, cracked uprights, slivers, worn non-slip bases, lose joints, lose screws and knurled steps. Specifically, stepladders should have inspection for worn parts, and broken hinge spreaders.
Extension ladders should have a check for defective locks, missing extension locks and frayed rope. Any ladder designated as defective need identification for “out-of-service.”
Causes for Ladder Accidents and Common Injuries
While many ladder-related injuries are a result of misuse or improper inspection, there are just as many ladder accidents that occur due to design or manufacturing defects. For example, some stepladders are excessively flexible, which can cause a fall due to racking instability. When a ladder is too flexible, it can cause the climber to lose balance and fall. Some extension ladders have poorly designed rung locks, which cause climbers to fall. Other ladder defects include improperly seated rivets and material flaws.
In some defective ladder falls, fractures, paralysis, concussion, internal injuries and even death can result. The most common injuries in ladder accidents are fractures to the leg or feet. When it’s proven that there was a defect in the manufacturing or design of the ladder, injured parties can initiate a lawsuit naming the manufacturer or designer as the defendant. At the same time, it can be tough to achieve a fair settlement. Ladder manufacturers know they are creating a high-risk product and have senior engineers to defend the company’s product in court. These professional witnesses know how to in circumvent facts regarding the safety of their products. Their goal is to avoid admitting liability for the injuries you or a loved one incurred.
How an Experienced Defective Ladder Attorney Can Help
An experienced defective ladder attorney will know how to interpret the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) products standard for ladders in analyzing defects in product design and hold the manufacturer responsible for flaws. While new ladders undergo performance factory testing, these tests do not indicate how the ladder will hold up when used over a period of time. An experienced defective ladder lawyer will hire his own expert engineer to dispute testimony given by the manufacturer’s senior engineers. Many plaintiff attorneys choose engineers who are active participants on the ANSI Ladder Standards Committee, have conducted ladder structural testing and research and who use computer analysis to simulate ladder behavior and 3D animations. These experts for the plaintiff can explain why the ladder slipped out, why the ladder leg buckled or tipped sideways and what caused the climber to fall.
When you incur a severe injury due to a defective ladder, there’s only one opportunity to build a strong case and recover a favorable jury verdict or settlement. It’s important to partner up with an experienced defective ladder lawyer who has the resources and expertise to win your case. Damages in products liability cases include pain and suffering, medical expenses, impairment, lost wages, loss in earning capacity, emotional distress and sometimes punitive.
If you’re injured due to a defective ladder, call us for a free review of your case. Our experienced attorneys will take the time to evaluate your individual circumstances and let you know whether or not you have a viable claim. And if you do have a case, you can count on us to be aggressive in our pursuit for justice on your behalf. We’ve won many substantial awards for our clients.