Due to defectively designed and manufactured tree stands, hunters may be at risk of severe injuries resulting from falls and other accidents. If a tree stand collapses or comes loose from a tree, permanent injuries or death may result. Falls from even a modest height can lead to broken bones, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Product liability law holds tree stand manufacturers responsible for hunting accidents and injuries related to defective equipment. Particularly because of their use, suspending hunters in trees, manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the equipment they market and distribute. If a tree stand manufacturer is aware of any defect, they are required to warn consumers and issue prompt safety recalls.
If a manufacturer fails to provide consumers with a safe product, they may be held liable for injuries sustained. Victims and families may seek compensation to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, as well as punitive damages against a manufacturer for negligence and a disregard for the safety of consumers.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio personal injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer product liability and sporting equipment cases.
Tree Stand Accidents
Most hunters are more likely to be injured in a fall from a tree stand than from an accidental gunshot. Injuries may be severe, as tree stands are often set up greater than 20 feet off the ground. Hunters who fall from about 15 feet or less from a tree stand tend to survive, while hunters who fall 24 feet or more are likely to suffer fatal injuries.
Studies indicate that a hunter who uses tree stands has about a 5 percent chance of being injured in a fall from a tree stand at some point in a hunting career. Trauma centers, however, keep records of the patients that report “hunting” and “tree stand” accidents.
Hunting accidents can result in complications primarily because they occur in remote locations and it can take many hours to transport victims to a hospital for care.
Accidents may be underreported as well, as in most states, tree stand accidents do not have to be reported to the governing wildlife agency. Defective tree stand accidents are most likely to be reported if it is a result of a defective tree stand.
Hang-on tree stands are the most common stands used in tree stand accidents. Ladder stands ranked second and climbing stands third.
Recalled Tree Stands
- In September, 2015, Millennium Outdoors recalled 1,400 M-60 fixed position tree stands for a fall hazard due to the tendency of the stand to bend at a downward angle. These fixed position tree stands are used to hunt from an elevated position, posing a serious danger to hunters. The defective Millennium Outdoors stands were sold at B&H Farm Supply, Farris Brothers, Gander Mountain, Midway USA and Sportsman’s Warehouse from May, 2015 through August, 2015.
- In October, 2015 Big Game recalled about 12,200 tree stands for posing a fall hazard to hunters, as the cable assembly on the climbing tree stand can release. The recall included three Big Game climbing tree stands models: The Outlook, The Cobalt, and The Fusion. Big Game received at least one report of the cable assembly releasing which resulted in injuries. The Big Game stands were sold at Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Menards, Rogers Sporting Goods and Sportsman’s Guide stores nationwide from June, 2014 through June, 2015.
- In November, 2016, Summit recalled hundreds of tree stands that posed a fall hazard because a weld in the tree stand frame could break during use. The recall included the Summit Explorer SD. The recalled Summit tree stands were sold at sporting goods stores nationwide in August, 2016.
Hunting Accidents & Defective Tree Stands
In 2017, a New Jersey jury turned in an $18.5 million verdict against Primal Vantage Co., a tree stand manufacturer the jury said had failed to reasonably warn about the risks of their product.
The jury award included around $870,000 for medical expenses, $1.2 million for lost wages and $13 million for pain and suffering. The jury found that the company manufactured an unreasonably dangerous product without warning of the risks involved.
Recently a Missouri man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three manufacturers—Mainstream Holdings, Inc., Premier Outdoor Equipment (Big Game Tree Stands), and Global Manufacturing, LLC.
According to the lawsuit, the deceased hunter climbed onto the Big Game tree stand and he slipped. He was wearing a safety harness but his foot got caught between the tree stand’s footrest and the bottom of the platform. The harness prevented the man from falling, however, he was unable to pull himself back up or get his left foot loose.
The lawsuit claims that the manufacturers of the tree stand should have known the device was “inherently dangerous” and prone to trap a user’s foot between the footrest and bottom of the tree stand.
The lawsuit also claims the company failed to meet industry standards related to the design and manufacture of hanging tree stands, failed to issue a recall, and failed to modify the product to prevent hunting injury and tree stand accidents.
Tree Stand Injury
Officials are concerned because even as hunter numbers have been on the decline, tree stand accidents have been on the rise. An Ohio study focused on 130 hunting-related accidents of all types in the Columbus area from 1998-2007.
Almost half of injuries were tree stand related, while 29 percent involved firearms. Injuries are quite severe. Of the tree stand accident victims, 59 percent suffered spinal fractures, 81 percent required some type of surgery and 8 percent were left with permanent neurological issues.
The Lyon Firm specializes in representing injured plaintiffs in personal injury and product liability lawsuits involving defective consumer products like defective tree stands and defective firearms. Manufacturers may be liable for injury and settlement can be likely following a preventable injury or death.
Education and media campaigns help spread awareness of basic safety and the following safety tips:
- Wear a full-body restraint harness
- Stay connected to the tree from the moment your foot leaves the ground
- Don’t leave stands out in the elements as they may degrade
- Inspect stands and ladders before using them
- Let someone know where you’re hunting, and when you expect to return
- Don’t forget basic gun safety