WINDOW BLINDS


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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least 332 children, most under the age of two, have died in incidents involving window blinds in the last 30 years.

The CPSC lists mini blinds as a leading “hidden hazard” in the home. The agency estimates that in the last 20 years, over 1,500 children were treated for injuries, many of them hospitalized. It has been estimated that one child will die each month from the cords on window treatments.

The widespread dangers may be even more serious than previous thought. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that as many as half of all window blind deaths could go unreported.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati, Ohio catastrophic injury lawyer, a window blinds lawyer, and Product Liability Attorney who is well versed in the science, economic impact, and human loss that such an injury or death has on the victim’s life and their family.  


What are Mini Blinds?


Mini blinds are a type of window blind made of long, narrow slats held together by string. The slats are opened and closed by pulling a string. These include both horizontal and vertical blinds and draperies.

The dangers of the cords of mini blinds may not be obvious to parents until it is too late. The hazards are as simple as low hanging cords, within reach of children. Young children can become entangled in loops created by knots in the cord. Pull cords form natural traps for the heads and necks of children.


Window Blind Hazards


A December 2017 study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, concluded that an estimated 10 deaths per year among young U.S. children are caused directly by strangulation by window blind cords. These deaths are completely preventable through safety standards. Consumers and lawyers are holding window fixture manufacturers responsible for the defective child products they market and sell.

The majority of entanglement injuries occur when parents are home, although nearly all are unwitnessed. Most injuries or deaths occur when a child is sleeping, playing or watching television. Entanglements often occur soon after leaving a child unsupervised.

The strangulation hazards posed by window cords are similar to other hazards of any elastics longer than 12 inches on pull toys for young children. All of these hazards are recognized in federal toy safety standard specifications.

Over 50 percent of injuries involve the entire window blind unit. Around 15 percent are linked to the blind cord. Common injuries include “struck by” accidents, lacerations, entanglements and strangulation. Among the entanglement-related injuries, over 80 percent included injuries to the child’s neck.

The dangers with window blinds are particularly serious as toddlers gain mobility and become curious about their surroundings. Children may have the motor skills necessary to access window blind cords, yet they lack the ability to understand the risk of strangulation. They rarely have the ability to free their body once entangled.

Window blind strangulation accidents can be fatal within minutes. Accidents often happen noiselessly. In this regard, the risks are similar to child drowning accidents. Researchers note that window blind cords are as hazardous to young children as standing bodies of water.


Are Window Blinds Still Unsafe?


As early as 1981, the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified window blinds as a cause of strangulation deaths in children. The report cited window cords as the second-leading cause of strangulation deaths among children under five. They called them “a particularly insidious hazard.” Yet, these problems still exist.

In the past few years, industry safety groups, major U.S. manufacturers, and retailers, have redesigned products and developed standards to reduce the risk of unnecessary deaths. New requirements include warning labels on packaging, and additional testing for potential hazards.
But the death toll continues to rise.

Why? One reason is many homes are still equipped with the old hazardous mini blinds, endangering young children. Child fatalities continue to be reported. Over 80 percent of incidents involve older products that do not conform to newer standards.

Safety groups say any blinds purchased before 2001 should be replaced with newer, safer options. Even blinds that meet certain safety standard can still pose a hazard if the cords are tied up or if the loose cords get entangled. That is the time to contact a Window Blinds lawyer.


Industry Negligence Poses Threat to Consumers


For years, industry executives have acknowledged that window blinds with cords are a potentially deadly hazard. However, they have done little to solve any real problems. The industry’s “voluntary fixes” have merely created an illusion of safety.

Window blind injuries have been identified in medical literature since 1945. However, because the home products are still defective, accidents continue to occur today. Safety advocates recommend a mandatory safety standard. The new standard should eliminate accessible window blind cords, and the full accountability of all window fixture manufacturers.

In 1994, the CPSC announced a plan to eliminate loops from most window blind pull cords. Also in 2000, authorities took similar measures to address loops in the inner cords of window blinds. Despite these intentions and previous recalls of specific types of window blinds, window blind cord accidents continue to be a public health threat in the United States.

Unfortunately, current laws and regulations regarding window blinds are quite limited in scope, and consumers are still at risk. Some states have recognized these dangers and have begun trying to protect those at risk.

For example, both Maryland and Washington have enacted laws restricting the installation of corded blinds in day care centers. In California, a bill has been proposed to prohibit the sale of many types of corded window coverings.


Industry Dodges Responsibility for Potential Dangers


The dangers of window blinds is great enough to prompt the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch a month long campaign every October to educate consumers on the strangulation hazards. But the U.S. window covering industry, including corporations such as Hunter Douglas, Springs Window Fashions, and Newell Rubbermaid, still sell dangerous products.

The industry has used lobbyists and public relations campaigns to resist any real change. The fact remains that new regulations hurt the industry’s profit margin. Corded blinds account for an estimated 75 percent of the industry’s roughly $2 billion in annual sales in the U.S. A Window Blinds Lawyer can assist in recovering compensation and create a safer environment.

Companies refuse to take responsibility for the hazardous products they sell. They admit that a danger exists, yet they continue to let the blame pass. Industry officials have even blamed safety problems on consumers who install or maintain their blinds improperly. They have also blamed parents who don’t do enough to keep their children out of harm’s way.

They have blamed retailers as well, saying it is their responsibility to warn customers of the dangers. The companies have made unreasonable statements, like saying there is no need to ban blinds with cords because only a minority of American homes have young children in them.


Window Blind Recalls


IKEA and Target, citing safety risks, have discontinued the sale of all window blinds with accessible cords. Reports say Home Depot, Walmart and Lowe’s have also announced they will stop selling similar products in the next few years.

In 2009, multiple companies recalled millions of units of dangerous Roman window blinds. That represents a small fraction of the estimated 800 million window coverings installed in American homes, but the initiative by the CPSC underscored the potential dangers of the products.

The safety agency has stated that it does not have the legal authority to ban window blinds with cords, though it strongly urges manufacturers to create a safer marketplace for consumers.


Window Blinds Lawyer & Settlements


Accidents that involve children getting caught in mini blinds or window blind cords can be deadly. Parents rarely imagine that a child could find danger within seconds, but accidents happen very quickly in some cases.

Child aged from one to four are at the highest risk, according to safety advocates. Infants and toddlers tend to touch and entangle themselves in anything they are surrounded by. If they are left unattended near window blinds, they may choke or strangle themselves.

Under severe legal pressure, many mini blind and window blind companies have added warnings to their product labels, though child safety attorneys have said the products should be recalled if they are associated with injury.

As with the majority of child injury scenarios, many parents do not believe that such a tragic event could ever happen in their home, but the risks exist.

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A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

Many product liability cases have had a positive impact on public health and safety, and we have witnessed improved lives and future injuries prevented as companies are forced to remove products and change designs and warnings as a result of litigation.

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Questions about Product Liability & Case Types

What is a Product Liability Lawsuit?

Product liability lawsuits often contain causes of action for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Strict liability applies to different factors than negligence-based claims.

In negligence cases, the actions of the defendant are the focus. In strict liability claims, the focus is on the condition of a product at the time it left the manufacturer. If a product is determined to be defective, the company is liable for any foreseeable injuries that are in-part caused by the defective condition of the product.

What are some examples of Product Liability?
How is a Product Defined as Defective?
Ohio Definition of Defective

A product is defective if it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. A legal cause of action can be based on several types of product defects. The following are Cincinnati product liability and strict liability claims available in Ohio and in most jurisdictions nationwide:

(1)  Manufacturing/ Construction Defect:

These issues arise where the product is released from the factory in a manner that deviates from the intended design or specifications. The defect can be a result of using the wrong materials, including the wrong or completely foreign materials (e.g., Tylenol contamination, food poisoning, damaged car part from factory installation).

As a result of the deviation, the product enters the market in an unreasonably dangerous condition and the consumer is exposed to or purchases a product that is defective. Any personal injuries or economic loss that arise from the the defect are compensable under Ohio product liability law.

(2) Defective design and/or formulation:

Defective design product liability cases arise not because a mistake was made during the manufacturing process, but rather the original design of the product is unreasonably dangerous. A “risk benefit analysis” is used to determine whether safer/less expensive alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.

Federal regulations set minimum standards for the design of many consumer products, and preemption defenses may preclude liability in some situations if the manufacturer follows and obtains federal approval for a product. Automotive recalls and product liability cases are usually a result of a defective design. Common cases include the Toyota Brake Recall, Chrysler Gen III seat belt buckle, lap belt only cases, Metal on Metal hip implants, transvaginal mesh.)

(3) Failure to warn or inadequate warning or instruction associated with the product:

All consumer products come with necessary and appropriate warnings and instructions for use. If the lack of a warning makes the product and use of the product unsafe, the manufacturer is liable for the failure to place the warning. The most common area of litigation for failure to warn is in pharmaceutical litigation.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to warn of the known or foreseeable side effects and update the warnings in a timely manner. Litigation arises where there is evidence the manufacturer failed to timely update a warning in light of new data or simply ignored the risk and failed to conduct sufficient research to identify and then disclose the risk.

(4) Misrepresentation:

The product fails to conform to a representation or warranty. Warranty claims are more common in commercial and economic loss cases than in personal injury cases. In many States, The Product Liability Act does not apply to cases with only economic loss, because the Commercial Code provides recourse for breach of warranty.

The warranty may be written or implied based upon the products intended purpose and merchantability. An example of a breach of warranty cases are cases involving automotive defects.

How do you prove design defects?

Risks:  The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the risks associated with the design of a product:  (1) the magnitude of the risk of injury; (2) ordinary consumer awareness of the risk for injury; (3) the likelihood of causing injury; (4) the violation of a private or public standard; and (5) the consumer’s expectation of the performance of the product and level of danger. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (B) Product Defective in Design or Formulation.

BenefitsThe following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the benefits associated with product design: (1) the utility of the product; (2) availability of an alternative design; (3) the magnitude of risks associated with an alternative design. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (c)

Defenses for Defective Design(1) a pharmaceutical drug or medical device is not defective by design if it contains an adequate warning of an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the pharmaceutical or medical device; (2) the dangerous aspect is inherent to the product, recognizable, and cannot be eliminated without compromising the product’s usefulness; (3) a lack of a feasible alternative design. 2307.75 (d)(e)(f).

EXAMPLES:

What is a manufacturing defect?
  • A manufacturing defect is based on a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. Many auto companies have been involved in this kind of product liability lawsuits in recent years, due to defective airbags, software defects, tire failure, and other dangerous manufacturing errors.

    Most manufacturing defect cases are based on a products deviation from the intended specification, formula, performance standards, or design model. In such cases, it may be easy to determine the product did not comply with the intended design.

    The product may be recalled as a specific lot is identified as being non-compliant and defective. A product may be defective in manufacture or construction, materials and assembly, and a manufacturer or distributor may be subject to strict liability, even though it exercised all possible care.  Ohio Revised Code 2307.74.


    Manufacturing Defect Examples:

What is a failure to warn lawsuit?

In determining whether a product is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction, evidence must be presented to prove:

  • The manufacturer knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about a risk
  • A reasonable manufacturer would have provided a warning of the risk
  • The manufacturer failed to provide the warning
  • The person was injured due to a lack of warning. The same elements apply whether the claim is based on a warning present during the marketing or post-sale warnings.

Defenses to Failure to Warn Claims(1) the risk was open and obvious or a matter of common knowledge; and (2) in cases of a pharmaceutical drug or medical device, the warning was provided to the prescribing physician (“Learned Intermediary Doctrine”).

Many pharmaceutical companies have been targeted in failure to warn lawsuits for either failing to place warnings on medication guides and packaging or failing to properly test their product before putting it to market.


 

What are consumer product safety regulations?

Design and manufacturing defects result in thousands of product recalls each year in the United States, initiated by federal safety agencies. Following injury and illness, regardless of recall status, victims and plaintiffs may pursue legal action and contact a product liability lawyer to begin the litigation process. Rightful compensation can be sought and help plaintiffs recover medical costs and other related damages.

Product liability law overlaps with regulatory law, which are the systems of legislative rules and administrative agencies, and part of federal and state governments. These agencies regulate the safety of the products sold to the public. Examples include:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA;)
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The listed government agencies, however, may initiate recalls of dangerous products but do not provide remedies or compensation for damages where an individual is injured due to the defective product.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

 Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Product Liability Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters.   Product Liability lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence casesThe cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world 

Your Right to Safety

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Defective products on the market present safety and health hazards for adults and children. Cheap and defective products may pose fire and burn risks; electrocution, strangulation and choking risks; and severe health risks. The manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to foresee potential injury and properly design and test products before they are released.

Companies must also properly warn consumers of any risks associated with their products. Any failure to protect consumers that results in accidents and injury can lead to lawsuits filed by plaintiffs and their Cincinnati product liability lawyer

Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law.

DEFECTIVE LAP BELT RESTRAINT

SPINAL CORD INJURY

(Pikeville, Kentucky): Confidential settlement for Plaintiff who suffered spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia due to defectively designed seat belt. Four passengers with three-point (lap/shoulder) belts walked away from the accident, and the only passenger wearing a two-point belt (lap only) suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury. The settlement assisted with home improvements to assist in daily living. GM entered federal bankruptcy during the process and no longer manufactures two-point lap belts for vehicles.

DEFECTIVE PROPANE WALL HEATER

WRONGFUL DEATH 

(Hillsboro, Ohio): Confidential Settlement for the family of elderly man who was catastrophically burned while operating a propane wall heater. The burns resulted in his unfortunate death. The heater, manufactured and sourced from China, was alleged to allow the flame to reach outside the grid area in violation of ANSI standards. The Defendant resolved the case following discovery and mediation. The recovered funds were paid to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. The company no longer manufactures this type of heater.

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