Consumers in the United States buy more than three million chainsaws every year and suffer more than 28,000 chainsaw-related injuries. The majority of those injuries harm the user’s hands and lower extremities. About 10 percent of chainsaw injuries are potentially deadly when they occur to the neck or head, but deadly chainsaw accidents are rare. Most result in injuries that could be very serious and potentially life-threatening.
In most cases, user error causes chainsaw injuries, but manufacturer defects and other issues could result in manufacturer and distributor liability for injuries or deaths. Chainsaw injuries and potentially deadly accidents commonly occur via chainsaw:
A kickback happens when the saw contacts a knot or other especially hard spot within the wood that you are cutting. The chain could stop dead in its tracks while the drive mechanism continues trying to move it. That can cause the saw to suddenly kick back and strike the operator. Kickback is the greatest danger affecting chainsaw operators and causes the most injuries.
Pushback is similar to kickback and happens when the chain encounters a knot or other hard object on the top bar. The entire chainsaw suddenly cold push back into the operator and cause injuries. Pull-in occurs similarly to pushback but happens when the chain section on the bottom bar suddenly stops while the top section continues moving. The effect pulls the chainsaw in closer to the cutting area and could injure fingers, hands, and the forearms.
Other chainsaw injuries could occur by accidentally placing an ungloved hand on the hot exhaust and by operating the saw without safety guards and similar equipment in place.
Preventing Chainsaw Accidents
Most chainsaw accidents could be prevented by following basic safe-operating procedures. You should hold the saw firmly with both hands on the designated handholds and pay close attention to the nose of the guide bar. You should ensure the chain is sharp so that it can make quick work of the trees, logs, and limbs that you are cutting. You never should cut more than one log at a time and never use the nose to cut through limbs or small branches.
It is critically important to ensure you have good footing and do not hold the chainsaw at odd or unusual angles. You need the full strength of your hands, arms, back, and body to control the chainsaw. You also should stand to the side so that your body is not in the pathway of the chain.
Once you start the initial cut, you should continue with the chainsaw going full throttle until finished with the cut. While cutting, the chainsaw never should be above your shoulders, and you should avoid twisting the saw while cutting through a log. A twisting motion could cause the saw to catch the chain and cause a kickback, pushback, or pull-in.
If you suffer an injury while using a chainsaw, it could require immediate medical attention. That is especially true if the chain cuts into any part of your body. You always should have a first-aid kit handy to help stop any bleeding and disinfect any minor cuts or abrasions.
Third-Party Liability for Chainsaw Injuries
If you are injured while working on the job, Workers’ Compensation insurance can help to cover the costs of injuries and lost work. However, you still could pursue a third-party liability claim against the manufacturer and distributors of a potentially defective chainsaw.
Design and manufacturing defects could contribute to the conditions that cause an accident that results in a serious injury. If a safety guard is inadequate to protect you against a chain failure, the designers, manufacturers, and distributors could be held liable for negligence and a manufacturing defect. If the ignition does not work properly and causes the chainsaw to catch fire and possibly set the operator on fire, that also would be a potential liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, and other third parties.
Failure to warn is another legal mechanism that could come into play and hold third parties liable for injuries and accidents that should not have occurred. The potential dangers of using a chainsaw are obvious, but manufacturers and distributors must make reasonable efforts to warn buyers and users of the potential dangers and how to prevent them. That includes explaining the proper use of the chainsaw and any related safety equipment.
How the New Jersey Product Liability Act Affects Third-Party Claims.
If you are injured while using a chainsaw in New Jersey, the New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA) affects claims made in state courts. If a defective chainsaw or other defective product causes you to suffer an injury because of that defect, the NJPLA essentially streamlines the process by ensuring all legal claims are processed as strict liability claims in state courts.
Strict liability holds third parties potentially liable for any injuries or other damages arising from product use. If a design flaw resulted in the injury, the NJPLA also provides a mechanism to hold that third party liable for damages.
Whenever filing claims for products liability in New Jersey courts, you must prove that the product was not made as it was designed. If the chainsaw was designed with a particular safety feature that the manufacturer omitted, a products liability claim could succeed at the state level.
A failure to warn claim must affirm the defendant did not provide an adequate warning or instructions on the chainsaw’s safe use. Proving a design defect in New Jersey requires proving the product could have been designed for safer use or that the risk outweighed the chainsaw’s ability to do the job. That is why you could not sue because it has an exposed chain, which is needed to provide the cutting power.
Perth Amboy Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Will Assist You in Your Third-Party Liability Claim
The designers, manufacturer, and distributors of chainsaws are required to mitigate the potential dangers with proper safeguards and by fully informing owners and others about the safe use of chainsaws. If you or someone you know is injured while using a chainsaw and you want to hold the manufacturer and other third parties liable for damages, the experienced Perth Amboy construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help you build and present a strong case. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.