Thanks to all of you who left comments regarding my recent blog post “Loaning Tools: What’s Your Take?”
That was lively feedback, and you’ve left a lot of food for thought on this topic. Responses ranged from “share and share alike” to “no way, no how, no matter who asks.” Clearly, we have definite opinions on this issue—and some of us have learned hard lessons from loaning stuff out. But, a couple of your comments suggest that there could be a bigger problem with loaning tools than not getting them back in tip-top shape. Chuck V and R Graf suggest that there’s potential tool liability we should be concerned about if someone gets hurt while using our tools. In case you didn’t follow the complete thread, here are their posts:
Chuck V: I heard a recent incident where a tool was “borrowed” by a “friend”, who later got hurt using it. (Two fingers amputated.) Appropriate usage or not, the person loaning the tool out got dragged into a very nasty liability lawsuit. He came out of it without major liabilities, primarily because he did not provide a blade, or chage (sic) for the use of the “borrowed” tool, but still incurred some legal fees, and a wary eye from his homeowners insurance company i.e ” are you running a commerial rental shop?”” Do you loan your tools to lots of people?”” Do you instruct them on the safe use of them?” and lots of time and grief. Ever read the fine print on a tool rental contract? One of the standard lines on most of them is “For use by skilled and knowledgable persons at their own risk”. I asked my layer (sic) about it, and his comment was “no way, no time, no how.”
And this response from R Graf: Remember in the current world even friends will sue, if there is an accident and your tool is involved. If you do not have proper documentation on maintenance and operating instructions or if you loaned the tool without the operator’s manual or possibly with a defect you could be going to court. Think twice, don’t loan.
I shudder at the thought of someone getting hurt as a result of borrowing a tool from me, and I’m sure you do, too. But, being held liable for that injury is equally frightening.
Are there attorneys among us who are willing to shed some light on this darker side of loaning tools? Should we be justifiably concerned about potential litigation? And, what can we do—short of never loaning tools—to safeguard ourselves from lawsuits?
Please post a comment if you have expertise in this area. We’ll all benefit from your knowledge here.
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Field Editor