If simple common sense isn't enough, the liability-shy manufacturers make sure to plaster DANGER: WILL ROBINSON!!! warnings all over their tools. So much so that the warnings take up more of the manual than the "how to operate this tool" section.
I'll admit that my table saw is an imposing piece of machinery. It's intimidating, and I treat it with a healthy dose of respect. Much like I would get into full battle garb and carefully plan all my movements when dealing with HCl or infectious bodily agents in the lab, my table saw gets special consideration in my pantheon of tools. Now that I think about it, some of my hand-held tools are probably more dangerous with regular use, but there's something about the table saw when it's going full speed. It is serious.
So if I told you that a Boston-area man bought an entry-level table saw from Home Depot in the mid-2000's and when he mangled one of his hands in 2006, he sued and just won a $1.5M verdict, would you be surprised?
Sadly, you probably wouldn't, and neither would I. Still, the patent absurdity of a jury awarding some bozo a ton of cash because the extremely dangerous tool he bought turned out to be exactly as advertized. . . well, it's beyond the pale.
His side argued that some prohibitively expensive safety feature exists that can sense when the saw blade touches human skin and stop the blade, and the manufacturer was negligent because it hadn't included it. Sigh.
Just because a safety measure exists does not make a company liable for selling a product that is exactly what everyone knows it is. If the company said "no one can ever be injured with this table saw, ever, never, NEVER!" then sure, they'd be liable. But they went in the exact opposite direction, warning about SERIOUS INJURY AND DEATH on every open square inch of the product, its packaging, and its manuals. Thus, one might expect that extra care was warranted in using said product, and if one's hand gets mangled, it's probably because one was being a fucking idiot while using it.
I'm sure this is the same line of thinking that reasonable people were bandying about when that old crone spilled hot coffee on her lap, and--my oh my!--burned the crap out of her legs. Still, rampant stupidity and abdication of personal responsibility for one's own well-being and life must be called to the carpet when it rears its head. Even if it's lost on too many to be any good.
At least one commenter on the Boston Globe article got it right when he summed it up thusly:
The hammer manufacturers will be next, for not including thumb detecting radar.It really is that sick and stupid.