No doubt, this spring, homeowners will be out and about, fixing their homes. Ladder accidents are common for such “do-it-yourself” homeowners. Ladder accidents are also common in the workplace, especially at busy construction sites across the Philadelphia area. They can cause significant injury or death. Serious injuries like head injuries and broken or fractured bones can result in significant medical bills and lost wages.
In situations where a defective ladder resulted in an injury at work, there are several types of third party claims which may be made. A third party claim is a claim against non-employers, such as ladder rental companies. In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, there may also be a direct claim against an employer, if the circumstances warrant one. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, lawsuits against employers can be filed in certain circumstances.
Products Liability Lawsuits for Ladder Accidents
In defective ladder accident cases at work or at home, there is almost always a products liability claim against the ladder manufacturer for defective design or a manufacturing defect. Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law, product manufacturers like ladder manufacturers owe consumers a duty to produce and market products which are fit for their intended uses. The problem is that corporations like product manufacturers operate entirely for profit and will therefore choose profits over safety.
Fortunately for some ladder users, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) issued recalls of two ladders in the last 7 years.
In February, 2008, Louisville Ladders in cooperation with the CPSC recalled Louisville/Davidson and Michigan brand extension ladders due to a potential for lock failure, resulting in a fall hazard. About 25,000 units were manufactured in Mexico and sold at Home Depot stores in late 2007.
In late 2005, the same company recalled roughly 3,000 multi-purpose, step-to-straight, combination, manhole and extension trestle ladders. There were reports of potential failure of a rung near the side rail.
In situations where a recalled or defective ladder caused an accident, there may be claims in addition to a product liability claim. There may be claims against various other entities, depending on whether the recall or defect was known or reasonably anticipated. For example, a contractor or subcontractor such as a ladder rental company which supplied the ladder may be liable for failing to inspect the ladder prior to renting it out.
However, defective or recalled ladders are not the only cause of ladder fall accidents at work or home. Other causes of ladder falls include:
- use of single rail ladders,
- exceeding the maximum intended load beyond the manufacturer’s rated capacity,
- use of ladders on slippery surfaces, and
- use of ladders without nonconductive side rails, which increases chances of exposure to electrical equipment.
Depending on the circumstances, and especially in serious injury cases, multiple parties may be sued.
For more information, click here to access our free legal article about workplace ladder accident law in Pennsylvania.
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Last updated: November 4, 2014