This case involves an injury to a construction worker. The plaintiff, a twenty-eight-year-old male, was constructing a deck using a compressed air nail gun. The nail gun had a safety mechanism that did not allow the gun to fire a nail unless the muzzle was pressed against a surface. However, while the plaintiff was using the gun, the muzzle became stuck, and the gun fired three nails into the plaintiff’s leg. The plantiff sustained extensive injuries and was forced to miss two months of work.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- Is this a normal risk associated with the nail gun, and how often does such a hazard occur?
Expert Witness Response
For nail guns, one of the most important safety features is the muzzle. Unless pressed against a surface, the muzzle will not allow nails to fire from the gun. In some cases, due to the muzzle being made from metal, the muzzle can warp and become stuck, which can be a dangerous circumstance. Still, given the device's intended use, it is important that appropriate measures are put in place in order to ensure that even if the muzzle does become stuck, the nail gun will not discharge. One additional measure that is found on some devices is the sequential-trip trigger which requires the muzzle to be depressed before the manual trigger, rather than simultaneously with the trigger. This ensures that unintended discharges are less likely to occur. An error like this one, however, where the gun fires without the trigger being pulled, usually is indicative of a defect of some kind.