How Common Are Household Ladder Accidents & Injuries?
Falls from ladders are some of the most common accidents, both in households and in the workplace. A simple project like cleaning leaves from a gutter or changing a lightbulb on a high ceiling can change your life forever if you fall and suffer a serious injury. According to a study by the American American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, each year about 500,000 people receive medical treatment for ladder-related injuries, with roughly 300 of these accidents proving fatal.
Injuries from ladder falls are often extremely serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls are a leading cause of accidental death in the United States – with 43% of fatal falls in the past decade involving a ladder. Those who survive their falls often suffer broken bones, back injuries, nerve injuries, and sometimes are either temporarily or permanently paralyzed.
While many falls from ladders occur due to human error, sometimes a defect in the design of the ladder can cause an injury even when the ladder is used safely and responsibly.
Ladder Falls At Construction Sites
Construction workers are some of the most common victims of ladder falls, as an estimated 81% of construction worker fall injuries treated in emergency rooms involve a ladder. Seeking compensation for a ladder injury as a construction worker is different than it is for a ladder fall which occurs outside of work. Your options for financial compensation may depend on your classification as a worker and whether you’re covered under your state’s worker’s compensation system.
Even construction workers who do qualify for workers’ compensation could still have grounds for a lawsuit if the accident occurred due to the negligence of a third party. This means that these workers can still take legal action against the manufacturers of defective ladders. These workers could also have grounds for lawsuits when other third parties cause a ladder fall through negligence, such as an independent contractor on the site accidentally knocking a ladder over while a worker is using it.
How Can Ladder Falls Be Prevented?
Many ladder falls can be prevented by following the accepted safety procedures of ladder use, such as:
- Making sure not to exceed the ladder’s weight limit
- Choosing the right type and right size of ladder for the job
- Keeping the ladder at an angle of roughly 75 degrees from the wall
- Only using ladders on non-slippery and stable surfaces
- Maintaining at least three points of contact (two) hands and a foot, one hand and two feet, etc.) while going up or down
- Never use the top two steps, as they are unable to support heavy weight
Not all homeowners take the time to educate themselves on ladder safety before using one. Sometimes, manufacturers fail to provide adequate safety warnings and instructions for safe use. But even when safety rules are followed to the letter, responsible homeowners can still suffer injuries if there is an underlying defect in the design or construction of the ladder.
It’s also important for homeowners to inspect their ladders before each use. Over time, wear and tear can make a ladder unfit for use. But when a ladder is defective, it’s often difficult to spot the defect until an accident happens.
What Happens When A Ladder Is Recalled?
When widespread defects lead to a ladder recall, the defective product is removed from retailers and the customers who have purchased these products are either offered a refund, a repair of the defect, or a similar product without a defect as a replacement.
Many consumers who have purchased these products may not be aware of the defect unless they’ve been injured in a fall caused by the defect. This means that many homeowners suffer injuries long after a defective product has been recalled.
Some of the people who have been injured have taken legal action either through class action or personal injury lawsuits. This additional financial compensation is often necessary to account for the extensive damages suffered after a ladder fall.
Examples Of Major Ladder Recalls
Several ladder manufacturers both big and small have issued recalls for defective ladders in the last decade alone. Industry leaders like Werner Co Inc. and Louisville Ladder have both had safety issues with multiple products in their line.
Recall For Defective Werner Attic Ladders
US-based Werner Co. Inc. is a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of aluminum and fiberglass ladders, as well as ladder accessories, storage products, and safety equipment. While most of their products are safe and free of defects, their attic ladders have resulted in numerous injuries because of inherent defects. These ladders fold up into attic doors and are pulled down for easy access to storage spaces.
Recall Of Space Master Sliding Attic Ladders
The company’s series of Space Master sliding attic ladders (model number WS2308) was recalled because of a manufacturing defect in June 1997. These ladders were on the market in the United States for six months before they were recalled.
This series of ladders were meant to be held in place with a metal hook. However, some of the units of this product had their hooks installed backwards, which caused them to drop randomly and without warning. This drop resulted in several injuries when the ladder fell and struck someone standing below it. Werner issued inspection and repair instructions to people who had already purchased the ladder.
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Easy Access Attic Ladders
One of Werner’s most defective products was never recalled at all. Their line of Steel Easy Access Attic Ladders reportedly received as many as 80 complaints each week because of hinges made out of cheap, low-quality metal. These hinges frequently caused the ladder to collapse even when used safely.
In spite of all of these complaints, the ladder remained on the market until 2008 and was never recalled. However, a class action lawsuit was filed in 2013 and settled in 2014 – but only the representative who filed the lawsuit was awarded financial compensation. All other class members of the claim simply received a free replacement ladder, but no compensation for financial expenses or personal difficulties related to their falls.
Multiple Louisville Ladder Models Recalled
Louisville Ladder is a major ladder distributor throughout the U.S. and Canada, which has been the subject of several lawsuits for defective industrial ladders.
Recall Of Louisville Industrial Ladders
In 2005, Louisville issued a recall for several different models of industrial ladders being sold in industrial supply and home improvement stores between November 2004 and June 2005. Approximately 3,000 of these ladders contained defective rungs, which had weak spots that created a falling hazard. All Type IA industrial ladders were recalled, including:
- Extension trestle
Louisville Ladder notified customers of the defect and asked them to return or mail defective ladders for an inspection and a free replacement.
Fiberglass Extension Ladder Recall
This company also had to issue a recall for a line of fiberglass extension ladders which was in stores from September until December of 2007. The Louisville/Davidson and Michigan models contained defective extension mechanisms which failed to lock into place. This resulted in falls because the ladder would collapse even under safe and normal use. Louisville Ladder issued free repair kits to customers.
About Filing A Lawsuit For A Ladder Injury
If you or a loved one was recently injured after a ladder fall, it’s important to be aware of your legal options. While class action suits like the one filed against Werner are one option, these often fail to provide adequate financial compensation for victims. This is why filing your own defective product lawsuit is the best way to secure financial compensation for damages related to your injury.
Our Philadelphia defective product lawyers specialize in holding manufacturers liable for the negligence which has caused injuries to their consumers. We can help you determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit in a free consultation and we have the experience, knowledge, and resources you need to build a successful lawsuit. Get in touch with us today if you want to find out more about filing a defective product lawsuit after a ladder fall.