In Agricultural and Grounds Maintenance Equipment, agricultural engineering expert witness Richard L. Parish, PhD, PE, writes:
When a personal injury or wrongful death case involves agricultural or grounds maintenance equipment, it will usually be necessary to retain an agricultural engineering expert to assist with the case. In most such cases, the agricultural engineering expert should start with a review of relevant industry and government standards. Most of the standards in this field are industry consensus standards, not mandatory government standards. Applicable government standards are few, but important.
Compliance with applicable industry standards is not compulsory, but the failure of a machine to conform to applicable consensus safety standards gives a plaintiff attorney strong ammunition against the designer, manufacturer, dealer, and/or rental agency. Conformance with applicable consensus safety standards is usually not a complete defense, but certainly makes a defense attorney’s job easier.
Not only is it important for an expert to consider all the appropriate standards, but the expert must also use the correct version of the standards. As a general rule, the version of the standard that was in effect at the time the subject machine was manufactured is the correct version to use. Trying to apply a current version of a standard to an older machine manufactured under an earlier version can result in the expert’s testimony being disallowed in a Daubert hearing.