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Thread: Stilts and Liability

  1. #1
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    Stilts and Liability

    A friend asked me to build a couple of sets of stilts for his kids. I found a plan that looks good, not that stilts are very complex. I'll probably use oak unless I can find some cypress locally.

    What is your feeling about liability for something like this?

    Also, the plan calls for finishing with polyurethane but I'd prefer using something that dries and cures much faster. Since the stilts will get banged around a lot, I thought about giving them a couple of good sealing coats with shellac.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  2. #2
    I wouldn't do it on a bet.

  3. #3
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    This is one of those discussions that may never have an ending.
    We have a historical folk center nearby. At the school are several sets of stilts that hundreds of children play on every day. I have never heard of an accident and, if there were injuries, I'm sure the stilts would be removed.
    I say, go for it. But, on delivery, do, in a gentle way, tell your friend that you can't be responsible for how the kid uses them. Stilts have been around for a long time. They can't be any more dangerous to use than a scooter or bicycle.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
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    you could always slap a label on them, stating that they should only be used with a helmet, and proper body armor (that's armour rob).
    benedictione omnes bene

    www.burroviejowoodworking.com

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

  5. #5
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    I'd be very careful on this. I work in a legal related field & you wouldn't believe the kinds of lawsuits that are being filed today. We seem to be in a society where people want to pass responsibility for their actions off onto others, especially if they can profit by doing so. Telling your friend you're not responsible will not protect you. Even signed waivers of responsibility have not held up.
    It's sad that some in this world have gotten this way in that it effects how all must think.
    Even if, in the event of a mishap, there's no lawsuit, you might lose a friend.
    I'm sorry for being the rain on everyone's parade this morning, I've just seen a lot of this kind of stuff going on.

  6. #6
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    I'd agree with Frank. You might build them from some published plans to have an accurate height, might even have your friend sign off on them. I don't view them as anymore of a liability than if you built them a step stool or bed.

    Also, If your truly concerned, you can always setup an LLC and do the work under that business entity, which I'd recommend to anyone building products for sale.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  7. #7
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    .,.,.,
    Last edited by John Bartley; 12-04-2010 at 01:14 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    I'd agree with Frank. You might build them from some published plans to have an accurate height, might even have your friend sign off on them. I don't view them as anymore of a liability than if you built them a step stool or bed.

    Also, If your truly concerned, you can always setup an LLC and do the work under that business entity, which I'd recommend to anyone building products for sale.
    Even an LLC won't protect you from lawsuits - an LLC is a "Limited Liability Corporation" (LLPs, Partnerships, are also an option). The "limited liability" part protects each of the partners (corporate or partnership) from the liabilities of another partner. It does NOT protect insulate all of the partners from lawsuits. Any person may sue the company AND one OR MORE of the officers/partners. If a person manufactures a clearly-unsafe device under the umbrella of an LLC, that person may be sued just as readily as if they were doing so as a sole proprietorship. The person responsible for an unsafe condition is always vulnerable to lawsuit.

    That said... liability in the case of stilts is a little grey. People simply cannot live risk-free, in a "perfectly safe" environment - it doesn't exist, and cannot exist.

    I'd suggest building the stilt height to the same height as one ordinary unit-standard stair riser and including a paper requiring that the stilts be used only under adult supervision. The stair-riser height helps protect you against a lawsuit based upon the stilts being "unreasonably high", and the adult-supervision requirement helps shift liability to the adult under whose supervision the kids use the stilts; the safety of the stilts is now subject to their judgment call.
    -- Tim --

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arnold View Post
    A friend asked me to build a couple of sets of stilts for his kids. I found a plan that looks good, not that stilts are very complex. I'll probably use oak unless I can find some cypress locally.

    What is your feeling about liability for something like this?

    Also, the plan calls for finishing with polyurethane but I'd prefer using something that dries and cures much faster. Since the stilts will get banged around a lot, I thought about giving them a couple of good sealing coats with shellac.
    I feel if you need to question yourself about liability of something you are building for children, I believe you answered you own question.

  10. #10
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    My feeling is that the lawyers and insurance people have got the public scared to do almost anything anymore. I bought a set of screw drivers not too long ago and they came with a label telling me misuse could cause death. Kids have used stilts for hundreds of years, I say build the darn things stout and tell them to be careful.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

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