What About Liability?
Due to the surge in large personal injury lawsuits, many mill owners are concerned about their personal liability when operating their Wood-Mizer mill. Whether for business or personal use, insurance can be difficult to almost impossible to find. If you already have an existing commercial liability policy you may be able to add your mill to it. In most cases, your home and auto insurance will not cover your loss. If you are having trouble obtaining insurance, one source that could assist you is Margeson & Associates, Inc
. As a leading insurer in the field, they are ready to assist you with your property and liability insurance needs.
Tips to Limit Your Exposure to Liability
- Observe routine safety procedures when operating the equipment.
- Keep the area clear of people.
- Keep all guards and covers on the mill to reduce any risk of injury.
- Require eye and ear protection for the operator and anyone offbearing lumber.
- Be cautious when handling the logs and the lumber as most injuries result from handling rather than the actual operation of the saw.
- Use a cutting contract that contains a clause stating that it is the log owner’s (or property owner’s) responsibility to keep the area clear of people. This contract will not automatically cancel your responsibility in cases of injury, but will demonstrate that you made a clear attempt to advise the owner that he also must assume responsibility in keeping the cutting area safe.
- Consider incorporating the sawmill as a business. If an injury occurs, the corporation generally would be held liable for damages rather than you personally. Usually your only risk after incorporating is the loss of the mill itself, if that is the only corporate asset. The cost to incorporate in many states can be less than $100. Again, this will not completely protect you against a lawsuit, but it usually protects your personal assets.
- If you plan on hauling lumber as part of your service you might want to consider setting up a separate corporation for hauling lumber to lessen exposures to your sawmill business.
- Consult your attorney.