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Forum topic by Tony posted 08-11-2009 11:15 PM 1694 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 3531 days

08-11-2009 11:15 PM

It appears to me stick & cane making are very popular. I started myself only last fall. I have a lot of branches drying, but only 10 or so completed or nearly completed sticks. For the first time, I’m planning to display some of my wares at our church’s annual Fall Harvest Festival. Given America’s litigious climate, do any of you other stick & cane makers concern yourselves with the thought of being sued if someone buys a walking stick or cane and trips over a crack while using it and is “injured” to some degree or another? To me, it seems the height of silliness to put up a sign at my display with a disclaimer, or to attach a disclaimer to every stick sold. Then again, I’m not a lawyer, and I have no idea how much trouble someone could make for me if they claimed one of my sticks was at fault for them breaking a bone. Opinions anyone?

Tony Turley

7 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4303 days

#1 posted 08-12-2009 02:35 AM

A disclaimer does not absolve liability.
Get business insurance or call your insurance agent to see if you are covered by your homeowners/renters policy.

I sell more than 100 walking and hiking sticks a year, and have done so for more than ten years.
So far I haven’t had a problem. However, I do carry business insurance, but I also sell many things other than walking and hiking sticks.

Don’t look for an excuse not to sell your stuff. Just do it.

-- 温故知新

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3446 days

#2 posted 08-12-2009 03:03 AM

I agree with Drgoodwood. I am not an attorney…but I have been around alot of this kind of situations.

Product manufacturers have what is called strict liability. This basically means if your product hurts someone due to negligence….the whole chain…from the maker to the seller is liable – disclaimers are not protection from negligence (say your stick has a flaw and cracks in half…dumps the person using it and breaks their hip….negligence can be asserted. You have a duty to make a safe product (duty of care)...your product failed (you breached your duty) – that is a very simple definition of negligence.

Insurance isn’t the only way you can have some protection…. you should look into setting up a limited liability company or a corporation….by keeping your personal assets – home, car, retirement…etc. – out of the company it can be protected against claims…(my description is very simplistic – you should consult with an attorney or paralegal to make sure this works in your jurisdiction – (different states….different laws) – setting up one of these companies is fairly simple…but there are tax and accounting consequences to consider..

If it sounds complicated…it really isn’t….you just need to do a little research…

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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18380 posts in 3851 days

#3 posted 08-12-2009 04:02 AM

Limited liability company is a lot cheaper than incorporating. Taxes pass throught to you personal 1040.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4071 days

#4 posted 08-12-2009 04:18 AM

Don’t not sell your sticks because of fear of what might or might not happen. Sell them knowing that very few if any street vendors are ever sued for anything. If you are concerned go to the local BBB and ask their advice on small business legal protection. Get out there and sell your stuff – it’s such a huge warm fuzzy to have someone plunk money down on your table for something you created—- go for it.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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2240 posts in 3446 days

#5 posted 08-12-2009 08:22 PM

I agree with Betsy too….Liability should be the lowest of your concerns….most folks that buy custom walking sticks or canes aren’t in it for litigation….I have several I made and that have been given to me….a few have broken over the years….and I have no intention of sueing the creator….that would be rediculous in my opinion….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View DrDirt's profile


4492 posts in 3918 days

#6 posted 08-12-2009 10:36 PM

Betsy and Reggie are right – unlikely to have any lawsuits unless the failure is really egregious – like painting it with lead paint….so some really ‘intentional’ problem.
As for insurance – - what is at stake? If you have significant assets, you should consider protecting them. Like Betsy said – people aren’t tracking down street vendors.
As for incorporating or LLC – if you are a one man show…it doesn’t help you much if at all. Because everything sourced, made, assembled was all performed and decided by you. So even if you were an LLC, an attorney would list both your company as well as you personally as the defendant. (The lawyers would also try to go after your Homeowners Association for allowing you to run a business there and anyone else they could remotely link to the operation in hopes of getting settlements out of them.
Sell the sticks – but the discussion is a good one – as you think about Quality and workmanship – Would you be able to defend the choices you made…e.g. when you attached the metal protective tip on a walking stick and the wood split – did you hit it with a little CA glue and accelerator?? or put on a metal ferrule? or scrap that piece, or… or… or…

As long as you can look at your work and say “I have no problem standing behind what I made” Get out there and sell it!

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Tony's profile


56 posts in 3531 days

#7 posted 08-13-2009 03:08 AM

I’m not into woodworking for the business…in fact, I’ve never sold a piece in my life. Everything I’ve done has been given away. I just enjoy making sticks, and thought I would try to sell a few this fall.

You guys are right – making up things to worry about is a silly waste of gray matter. I appreciate all of the comments.


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