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Thread: Stilts and Liability?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Thomasville, Georgia

    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
    NRA Life Member
    Member of Mensa
    Live every day like it's your last, but don't forget to stop and smell the roses.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Stephenville, TX
    I can't say what the law says about liability, but unless there is an inherent flaw in design or manufacture that causes an injury of some kind I don't see how you could be held liable. If that were the case someone could take you to court over them shutting a door you made on their finger.

    And since I'm not on retainer, this advice is worth what you paid for it.
    And now for something completely different....

  3. #3
    Poly will take more abuse than shellac although I rarely use poly. Stilts might be somewhere I would as it rarely belongs on furniture ;-) Since kids are prone to leaving things outside, a good BLO flooding followed by poly (including an end-grain dip) might be appropriate but now I think we are going wayyyy beyond the call of duty, eh?'s talks about your car. It's screaming "Wash me, please!"

  4. #4
    my opinion:

    If you're worried about being sued by your friend, perhaps doing business with him is not a good idea. Seriously.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    You could always mill the parts, and predrill the bolt-holes, and let him do the final assembly. But John C is correct -

  6. #6
    Make them for him. If he wants to give them to his kids, it's his thing not yours. The fact is, there is no one positive way to protect yourself from liability issues. That is an area in which everything is open to argument. That's one reason we "need" so many lawyers....
    David DeCristoforo

  7. If you are that concerned about it maybe you could make the parts but let the friend assemble them. That way you only provide the wood. He built the stilts.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Or if he's a good friend invite him to build them with your help -- that way he really built them himself. When I think about the treehouse a friend and I built for the kids 25 years ago -- about 25' up in the trees!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Goodman View Post
    Or if he's a good friend invite him to build them with your help -- that way he really built them himself.
    Better have a SawStop or he's gonna cut a finger off and call a lawyer.

    How high are these stilts gonna be? I walked on stilts when I was a kid, they were only 18" high or so. They were basically a long stick w/ a step on them. You held it in your hand, place your foot on the step, and stepped up. Then you did your other foot (quickly).

    When you're a kid you jump off them before you fall. Not too much to worry about. I think they're safer than riding a bike, quite frankly.

    Which is another thing, just make sure you tell whomever uses them to wear a bicycle helmet. If the kids don't have helmets for their bikes, tell your friend you'll meet him to deliver the stilts at some place that sells helmets.

    Now, if they were 6' stilts, that's be a different thing altogether.

  10. #10
    If this is truly a concern that might get in the way of building the stilts, I would talk to the friend about liability issues.

    Yes, stilts are probably safer than bikes. Having said that, kids fall off the ground every day and get hurt. Falling from a stilt is probably more likely than simply losing footing and face planting.

    I'd see what the friend has to say about the fact that you had considered potential injury and not wanting to be responsible for the kids getting hurt.

  11. This conversation makes me very, very sad.

    That said.. Modify one of these.

    Problem solved.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    Its ashame that we have come to this.I hate lawyers till I need one Carroll

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Cincinnati Ohio
    You are not safe building things for friends.

    Without going into detail I know a person who was injured at a friends house. It was nothing more than an accident. The guy who got hurt and his family did not hold anything against the home owner. But the guy who got injured, his insurance company sued the home owner for all expenses they had to pay out for the injury. The home owner lost and had to pay.
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

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