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Defective Ladder Injury Claims – What You Need to Know

Defective Ladder Injury Claims – What You Need to Know

A man climbing a ladder with a paintbrush in hand

In this article, we’ll break down the following:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 163 people, on average, die yearly from ladder-related injuries. The number of annual nonfatal ladder injuries resulting in time off work is slightly over 22,000. Many of these injuries can be attributed to defective ladders or absent safety features that could have prevented these accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective ladder, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. Here’s what you need to know about defective ladders injury claims.

Defective Ladder Injury Claims – Definition

Ladders are a common occurrence everywhere. People use them in their homes when carrying out repairs or general maintenance. Professionals in the construction industry use them in their line of work.

For the most part, people generally exercise caution when climbing up and down ladders. However, if you’re using a defective ladder, no amount of care will prevent you from getting injured. Some minor ladder injuries result in a few broken bones, bruises, or abrasions. Others are severe and may result in permanent disability or death.

When a defective ladder causes you harm, you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent party. Filing a defective ladder injury claim allows you to recover damages for your injuries, loss of wages, and everything in between.

Common Types of Ladder Defects

Numerous accidents in Florida each year are the direct result of defective ladders. Most ladder defects will typically fall into one of three main categories.

For starters, a flawed design process can lead to a defective ladder. The ladder’s blueprint may make it inherently dangerous to use.

In other instances, the ladder may be safe to use from a design point-of-view, but an error may arise during manufacturing. This error would typically affect a portion of the ladder inventory, such as units manufactured at a specific plant in a specific month/year.

Finally, a ladder may be rendered defective if it fails to issue the consumer with appropriate warnings or usage instructions. All ladders have some inherent risks associated with using them. The ladder will be considered defective if the manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer fails to warn the end user of these risks.

Common ladder defects include:

  • Defective locking mechanisms
  • Faulty hinges
  • Inadequate safeguards
  • Misplaced rivets
  • Poor quality materials
  • Unstable or uneven base
  • Weak or faulty rungs
  • Worn or damaged parts

Common Types of Injuries Caused By Defective Ladders

Ladder injuries are usually the result of users falling off them. These falls can have catastrophic consequences for those involved. Below are some of the most common types of injuries caused by defective ladders:

  • Back and neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Concussions
  • Herniated disks
  • Hip fractures
  • Muscle tears and sprains
  • Skull fractures
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Some of these injuries could result in permanent disability. Others could be fatal.

Liability in Defective Ladder Injury Claims

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective ladder, there are two causes of action you can pursue.

On the one hand, you can file a strict liability claim against the manufacturer. This is usually the go-to route for most victims. The plaintiff would have to show that an error in the ladder’s design, manufacture, or marketing made it unreasonably unsafe for its intended purpose, causing them injury as a result.

On the other hand, you can file a negligence claim against the manufacturer or any other party you deem responsible for your injuries. Unlike strict liability lawsuits, a negligence claim requires you to prove that the defendant had a duty of care towards you to make a safe ladder and that they breached that duty, causing the product to be defective.

Plaintiffs in defective ladder injury claims generally rely on evidence comprising:

  • The design and manufacturing standards in existence at the time of the ladder’s production;
  • Safety testing documentation; and
  • Already-existing reports of injuries caused by other ladders also manufactured by the defendant.

It is worth noting that based on the provisions of Florida Statute 90.407, if, after your lawsuit, the manufacturer issues a recall on the defective ladder model that caused you harm, you cannot use this remedial move in your claim to demonstrate that the ladder was faulty in the first place.

Examples of Products That Caused Ladder Injuries

Faulty Hinges

  • A user fell off a folding ladder after the central hinges failed. This caused the top and bottom sections of the ladder to rotate in opposite directions. The user reported sustaining lacerations, swelling, and bruising.

Poor Quality Materials

  • A man fell off a 24-foot ladder while picking apples after it broke five feet from the top. The fall resulted in a severely sprained right ankle, broken left ankle, bruised knees and elbows, and abrasions on various parts of his body.
  • A user reported falling off their step ladder after the handrail broke, causing them to lose balance.

Unstable or Uneven Base

  • A woman fell, sustaining three broken ribs after the metal frame of a fiberglass stepladder bucked at the base.

Weak or Faulty Rungs

  • A user sustained severe head and elbow lacerations after the fully-extended telescoping ladder they were on began falling to the ground. They attributed this failure to damaged ladder rungs.
  • Another user was using a fiberglass extension ladder to hang a security light when they noticed a crack near one of the rungs. They got off the ladder immediately to avoid falling to the ground.

Florida Case Law on Defective Product Claims

Florida law allows injured plaintiffs to pursue defective product claims under three legal premises: Design defect, manufacturing defect, and marketing defect.

Design defects occur when the actual product blueprint is faulty. These types of defects affect entire product batches as opposed to a single unit.

Manufacturing defects affect specific batch portions of a product, as opposed to every single product in an entire batch. This is often because of an error or contamination that goes unnoticed during the product’s production stage.

A marketing defect, sometimes called a labeling defect, refers to the absence of critical instructions or warning labels that make a product inherently dangerous to use. The lack of appropriate labeling can render a product unsafe, even if the product itself isn’t faulty.

With that in mind, Florida courts operate on a strict liability system when it comes to product liability claims. The law holds designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers liable for injuries that result from defective products without requiring plaintiffs to prove negligence in the design process.

To prove strict liability, the injured party has to show (prove) that:

  1. An undisputed relationship exists between the defendant (designer, manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer) and the product in question;
  2. The product had a defect;
  3. The defect rendered the product inherently dangerous for its intended purpose; and
  4. The defective product was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

In a strict liability claim, the defendant must show that the product, which allegedly caused the plaintiff’s injuries, was reasonably safe when it went on the market.

Holding designers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to a strict liability standard incentivizes these entities to produce, market, and sell products that meet the required safety standards. These standards are set by industry-specific and federal regulatory bodies, including but not limited to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

You can also bring a product liability claim under the legal principle of negligence. The burden would rest on your ability to prove that the defendant(s) acted negligently when they designed, manufactured, or sold the defective product and that this was the cause of your injuries.

Florida Case Law Related to Defective Ladders

Davis v. Little Giant Ladder Sys. (2022)

Issue: Plaintiffs Craig Davis and Yvonne Davis brought a product liability action against Little Giant Ladder Systems for their allegedly defective extendable and articulating line of Velocity ladders.

Craig allegedly fell off the ladder onto the driveway sustaining serious injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures, after the ladder’s proprietary “Rock Locks” safety fasters malfunctioned, causing the rung to drop. Craig sued for design and manufacturing defects on the legal theories of strict liability and negligence, for failure to warn and breach of an implied warranty, respectively. Yvonne Davis sued for loss of consortium.

Result: The jury found in favor of the defendants, ruling that there was no defect in the design and manufacture of the ladder and that Craig was liable for his own injuries. The court also found that the warnings on the ladders were clear, unambiguous, and accurate, further stating that even if they weren’t, the plaintiff failed to show proximate cause.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky: Background

For several decades, Alan Sackrin and Larry Tolchinsky have helped and continue to help hundreds of clients in a wide range of legal matters. Sackrin & Tolchinsky attorneys offer representation for arbitration, civil litigation, appeals, and mediation in various practice areas, including:

  • Catastrophic car accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Slip and Falls
  • Insurance claims/denials
  • All other serious personal injury claims

We aim to offer clients the best possible legal representation for the best possible outcome in their claims. We utilize the latest technology to keep service delivery costs low and provide personalized expert help for fast and fair resolutions to legal issues.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky’s Experience as Injury Claims Lawyers

Alan Sackrin is an accredited attorney with several decades of experience representing injured clients in product liability lawsuits. He has successfully handled complex cases involving defective products and helped victims recover their rightfully entitled compensation.

One notable case Alan was involved with had to do with an employee who sued a crane manufacturer for a missing safety railing. The absence of this safety feature resulted in severe injuries to his leg, which was eventually amputated to save his life. Alan fought tirelessly for his client, securing a significant seven-figure settlement.

Get Legal Help

If you or a loved one has been injured by what you deem a defective ladder, consult a product liability attorney as soon as possible.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of defectively manufactured products. They have the knowledge and expertise to help you prove your case and get your deserved settlement.

Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation to discuss the specifics of your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What steps should I take if I am injured due to a defective ladder?

If you have been injured by what you believe to be a defective ladder, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Seek immediate medical care.
  2. Preserve every piece of evidence, including the defective ladder itself, and document everything—medical records included.
  3. Speak to an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible.
  4. Identify what type of defective ladder injury claim you have. Was it the result of a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect?
  5. Identify all the liable parties in your claim.
  6. Determine your damages.

What kind of damages can I recover in a defective ladder injury claim?

You can recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses you incur
  • Projected costs of any future medical care you might need
  • Lost wages if you had to miss work due to your injuries or if your ability to work has been impaired
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Wrongful death

What is the statute of limitations for filing a defective ladder injury claim in Florida?

The statute of limitation for product liability cases based on strict liability is 4 years. For product liability cases based on negligence, please call us to discuss your case, as a recent statutory change in the law has caused uncertainty to the limitations period.

Do You Have A Question? Call Alan Sackrin Today For a Free Case Evaluation

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40+ years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert civil trial lawyer about your product liability case, call Alan at 945-458-8655.