Anyone selling or renting new or used equipment has a legal responsibility to ensure that the equipment is safe. Missing safety equipment at the time of sale or rent exposes you to a lawsuit if subsequent damages or injury occur. Customers who have removed the safety equipment post sale or lease, and claim the dealer did not advise them properly of the importance of this equipment have also won lawsuits!
The best way to avoid injuries to your customers is to ensure that all safety equipment is in place at the time of the sale, and to properly educate your customer about the safety equipment. But what if a lawsuit does ensue?
Documentation is your best defence!
Make a checklist.
Some dealers incorporate a brief checklist on a delivery or pickup slip since the purchaser must sign that document.
A separate checklist can also be very effective and with the right questions can be quickly administered without complication. The checklist should:
- Indicate that all guards and warning signs are in place
- Identify any safety equipment or warning signs that may be missing
- Indicate if the equipment was modified in any way
- State that warning and/or safety decals are in place
- Indicate if the rollover protection system is in place
- Confirm that the instruction booklet has been delivered to the customer
- Confirm that the operating instructions have been given to the customer
In addition, the checklist:
- Should be reviewed with the purchaser in detail ensuring that the purchaser is aware of the safety features
- Must be signed by the purchaser acknowledging the condition of all safety features and guards
- Should accompany all new and used equipment sales slips and be kept on file indefinitely
- Taking photos of the equipment prior to a sale is another excellent measure you can take to document the condition of the equipment at the point of sale.
- Digital photos can satisfy this very effectively, ensuring that the date stamp is shown on the photo.
- Keep the photo attached to the sales receipt in your record files.