According to the Sacramento Bee, between 2003 and 2006 there was an estimated 42,000 nail gun injuries nationwide. The problem stems from the use of high-pressure nail guns typically used on construction sites. The majority of injuries come from so called “contact” guns. This type of gun shoots a nail – at nearly 500 feet per second -as soon as the tip of the gun makes contact with a solid surface. Obviously, if the gun accidently makes contact with a part of the operator’s body, the gun will fire with devastating results.
There is a safer alternative. The “sequential” gun requires that the trigger be pulled each time a nail is to be fired.
Safer designs have been offered to manufactures, but have been rejected based on slow sales. The dangerous “contact” guns have been the subject of many product liability lawsuits, but they are still being manufactured and sold. Why? Because up until now the cost of the lawsuits is less than the cost of lower sales of the safer guns.
This type of human life “accounting” is is exactly why punitive damages are so critical in many cases. When a jury decides to punish a manufacturer by imposing significant punitive damages the accounting will change.