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Hunting Tree Stands

Although hunting from an elevated platform presents many hunters with a significant advantage in the field, a long line of serious injuries and deaths due to defective equipment and irresponsible safety practices have occurred to those using the stands.

As many of these injuries are a result of poorly designed hunting equipment, there have been many models of hunting tree stands that have been recalled by manufacturers. Many injured hunters have chosen to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of dangerous hunting tree stands and have been awarded considerable sums in damages.

There are many safety concerns that come into play when purchasing and using a hunting tree stand. The most serious safety issue comes from faulty hunting tree stands that suddenly detach from the tree while the hunter is waiting in the perch. A long fall from a perch high up in a tree can cause injuries ranging from sprained ankles to broken bones or even death. In other cases, a hunting tree stand can collapse and leave a hunter hanging in his safety harness in such a way that it can be difficult to get out of the harness and climb down the tree to safety. Many hunting tree stand injuries come in the form of accidents that occur while a hunter is climbing up and down from the platform.

Since many of the injuries caused by hunting tree stands result due to faulty equipment, various models of hunting tree stands have been recalled over the years. Sometimes hunting tree stand manufacturers are able to recall flawed stands before a hunter is seriously injured, but many hunting tree stand recalls are the mandated by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) after injured hunters have filed lawsuits and official complaints.

Under federal law, all hunting equipment manufacturers are required to immediately report any flawed products that pose a significant safety hazard to the CPSC the moment that they are discovered. Failure to do so can result in civil penalties that can be as high as half a million dollars, as well as possible criminal charges.

In many cases, the manufacturers of defective hunting tree stands have found themselves in court defending themselves against those who have sustained serious injuries due the failure of this dangerous equipment. In early 2009, a jury awarded $157 million dollars to the spouse of a deceased hunter who was killed when his hunting stand came loose from a tree and caused him to lose his life after he was hanged to death by his safety harness. In that case, hunting equipment manufacturer TSR had recalled over 9,000 faulty Ol’ Man Tree Stands following the victim’s death in 2006.

The Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 was specifically designed to ensure that consumers are protected from faulty consumer products like defective hunting tree stands through the oversight of an independent agency.

Sources

  1. http://deltafarmpress.com/mag/farming_downside_hunting_deer/

Hunting Tree Stands Lawsuits

Although hunting tree stands have become very popular in recent years due to the significant advantage that they offer hunters, the stands also present a serious safety hazard when they are not designed properly.

The most common injuries caused by defective hunting tree stands are sustained as a result of the tree stand suddenly coming loose from a tree, causing broken bones and spinal injuries when the unsuspecting hunter falls. Due to clear regulations by various consumer protection agencies, hunters are legally entitled to seek appropriate damages when they are inadvertently injured due to faulty equipment that does not belong on the market. Over the course of the last decade, personal injury attorneys representing many injured hunters have filed successful lawsuits in which the manufacturers of defective hunting tree stands have been required to provide financial compensation for damages inflected by their products.

One of the best known lawsuits involving faulty hunting tree stands occurred in 2008 against Ardisam Inc., an equipment manufacturer located in Cumberland, Wisconsin. According to the lawsuit, the company was well aware of a serious safety flaw with one of their hunting tree stand models since the early spring of 2000, but failed to issue a safety recall until May 2004.This was a direct violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act, which requires all hunting equipment manufacturers to immediately notify the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) upon the discovery of any product that poses a significant safety risk to the public. Once they finally notified the CPSC of the problem, Ardisam issued a recall of nearly 80,000 of the hunting tree stands.

In this particular case, the lawsuit was filed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation rather than by injured hunters. Although Ardisam denied all allegations of wrong doing, the prosecution successfully proved that the corporation had received a long list of complaints by injured hunters who discovered that the hunting tree stand detached from trees during use. In early 2008, Ardisam finally decided in favor of a settlement with the Department of Justice that required the company to pay $420,000 in civil penalties to the government.

Ol’ Man Tree Stand Lawsuit

Another landmark lawsuit against hunting tree stand manufacturers in early 2009 was filed against TSR Inc. by the widow of a hunter who had lost his life using a faulty hunting tree stand called the Ol’ Man tree stand. Timothy Simonton was hunting alone in the woods when his tree stand detached from the tree. Simonton was wearing the recommended safety harness at the time, but he did not manage to survive the fall. Instead, he was found some time later hanging lifeless from the tree still attached to his body harness. Following complaints to the CPSC, approximately 9,000 Ol’ Man tree stands were subsequently recalled during the year of 2007.

What is particularly unusual in this case is that no one representing TSR Inc., a Florida based hunting equipment manufacturer, or any of the other businesses listed in the lawsuit appeared at the trial to defend themselves in court. The attorney representing the hunter’s widow filed the lawsuit requesting $100 million dollars based on an approximation of the income that Simonton would have been likely to earn over the course of his life, as well as other damages. However, after deliberating for only one hour, the jury reached a decision on its own volition to reward the widow with $157 million in damages due to the death caused by the faulty hunting tree stand.

Lawsuit Prompts Recall

More recently, a lawsuit was filed in late 2009 by an attorney representing a hunter who suffered a broken back when he fell from a tree due to a faulty hunting tree stand that he had purchased at Gander Mountain. According to his attorney, the hunter was injured the first and only time that he used the hunting tree stand in question when the hunting equipment collapsed as soon as it was mounted. As a result, the hunter plummeted 14 feet to the forest floor and fractured two of the vertebrae in his back, and suffered a broken pelvis and other injuries.In this case, it was the lawsuit itself that prompted the CPSC to require an immediate recall of the hunting tree stand in question, and some 13,000 hunting tree stands sold by Gander Mountain Company were recalled across the country.

Hunting tree stand lawsuits provide a measure to ensure that the manufacturers of potentially hazardous hunting equipment take every possible contingency into consideration to make the safest possible hunting tree stands available to responsible hunters. While a hunter’s safety is ultimately his or her responsibility, the regulations provided by the Consumer Product Safety Act provide guidance that hunting equipment manufacturers are required to notify the CPSC whenever they discover that a particular model of hunting tree stand may be defective, so a safety recall can be issued before a hunter is seriously injured.

In cases where hunting equipment companies fail to provide their consumers with proper protection, hunting tree stand lawsuits give injured hunters a chance to recover the financial damages that they have incurred through medical expenses and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.

Hunting Tree Stands Recall

While using a hunting tree stand can often provide a hunter with a significant advantage when hunting in the field, it is important exercise caution, as many hunting tree stands on the market in recent years have been recalled by manufacturers due to serious safety concerns.

When a hunting tree stand suddenly breaks while a hunter is high up in a tree, it is common for the hunter to sustain serious injuries from the subsequent fall. Spinal cord injuries and broken bones are among the more common injuries, and failing to take notice of manufacturer recalls for hunting tree stands can result in significant bodily harm, prompting the filing of lawsuits against irresponsible retailers of recalled equipment.

The Recall Process

The issuing of a hunting tree stand recall is a deliberate and efficient process, designed to remove dangerous hunting equipment from the market as quickly as possible while providing protection for manufacturers to ensure that their products are not recalled without a legitimate reason.

In most cases, the first step in a hunting tree stand recall is the discovery by a consumer or third party of a potential safety hazard that the manufacturer overlooked. Unfortunately these defects sometimes do not come to light until the hunting equipment is already on the market and a hunter discovers the safety hazard while using the product out in the field. Whether a hunter is actually injured by the device or simply raises some potential safety concerns, the manufacturer is eventually notified of the potential problem.

Once the manufacturer has been alerted of a possible safety hazard associated with a hunting tree stand, they are legally obligated to respond appropriately. Under the federal guidelines detailed in the Consumer Product Safety Act, manufacturers of hunting equipment are required by law to provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with immediate notification of any products that pose a serious hazard to the public’s safety. The safety concerns are then evaluated by the independent agency, and a determination is made as to whether the hunting tree stand poses enough of a safety risk to merit a product recall. If so, the manufacturer and the CPSC issue an official product recall, and the product is removed from the market as quickly as possible.

The Manufacturer’s Role

When it is clear that a particular model of a hunting tree stand is defective, some manufacturers handle the recall of their faulty product more responsibly than others. In the some cases, manufacturers have refused to issue recalls of their tree stands until they were forced to do so by federal agencies. While the majority of hunting equipment manufacturers comply with CPSC regulations, there have been some occasions in which the Department of Justice has successfully proven that a hunting tree stand manufacturer knowingly produced and marketed dangerous equipment for years before notifying the CPSC of the safety hazards that were posed by their products.

Ardisam Incident

When hunting equipment maker Ardisam first learned in 2000 that their hunting tree stand was defective and posed serious risk of injury to their customers, they allegedly decided to sit on this information and did not contact the CPSC until four years later after numerous consumers suffered broken bones and other injuries due to the faulty equipment. Ardisam eventually settled with the federal government to pay a civil penalty that amounted to a little under half a million dollars.

API Outdoors

One success story of a hunting equipment manufacturer and the CPSC working together to protect the hunting public came in the form of a voluntary recall that API Outdoors and the CPSC issued in 2002 for a pair of hunting tree stand models that were found to have defective cables. In this case, API Outdoors received notice from two of their customers that the cables on their hunting tree stands had broken and resulted in the hunters falling to the ground, but no one was seriously injured. API Outdoors responded appropriately by contacting the CPSC, and a decision was reached to recall the roughly 9000 tree stands that were on the market with faulty cables. The models included in this recall were the API Buckmaster Grand Slam Climbing Treestand and the API Hi-Point Cable Cat Climbing Treestand. As a result of the recall, no further injuries were reported.

Hunter’s View Ltd

Another notable recall of a hunting tree stand that was manufactured by a trusted name in hunting equipment occurred in the fall of 2001 when Hunter’s View Ltd voluntarily recalled approximately 30,000 hunting tree stands. In this particular case, Hunter’s View Ltd had to recall nine different models of hunting tree stands due to the discovery of cables that were used on each of the models could break under certain conditions. The tree stand listed in the 2001 recall include the model numbers HVTS-100, HVTS-101,HVTS-102, HVTS-10, HVTS-300, HVTS-302, HVTS-400, HVTS-402, HVTS-500, HVATS-3000 and HVATS-4020. Thanks to the quick action of Hunter’s View and the CDSC in voluntarily recalling the tree stands, the products were removed from the market before any hunters were unnecessarily injured.

Recall Resources

The best source for staying up to date on the recall of specific models of hunting tree stands is the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC is an independent agency created by the Consumer Product Safety Act in 1972 to protect the public from unnecessary injuries from defective consumer products. Among other functions, the CPSC handles the safety regulations of the majority of consumer products on the market and issues mandated recalls of dangerous products when necessary. The CPSC also provides a list of all of the models of hunting tree stands that have been recalled over the years with detailed information.

Hunting Tree Stands Safety Concerns

Although hunting tree stands are one of the most popular items of hunting equipment, it has been proven time and time again that the stands pose a significant safety hazard when used in the field.

While there are some reliable hunting tree stands on the market, there is a long list of hunting tree stand recalls that have occurred in the last decade, and some experts on hunting safety have suggested that the risks associated with using a hunting tree stand far outweigh the benefits that this equipment offers to hunters.

Injuries Caused by Hunting Tree Stands

According to a study conducted by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 18,980 hunters were seriously injured while using hunting tree stands between the years of 2005 and 2007, including 41 deaths. In 1993, Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine performed a study that approximately one third of all hunters who use tree stands will experience an accidental fall from their perch at some point in their lifetime, with the majority of these accidents occurring while climbing up and down trees. While many of these injuries could have been avoided by following safety practices while hunting, a large number of these incidents were a direct result of design flaws in the hunting tree stand itself that cause the stand to become inadvertently detached from a tree during use.

The most serious safety concern associated with hunting tree stands relates to the dozens of cases in which defective stands have failed to stay attached to the tree, resulting in a hunter falling to the ground and sustaining serious injuries. When hunters are hunting from an elevated platform in a tree stand, they are frequently perched at a height of anywhere from 10 to 30 feet off of the ground, and a sudden, unexpected fall from such a distance often results in broken bones or spinal injuries.

While the majority of hunting tree stands are the result of a hunter losing his grip while climbing up and down from his tree stand, a defective hunting tree stand that suddenly collapses before a hunter has a chance to respond is much more likely to result in a particularly serious injury.

Issuing of Recalls

Thankfully, there is a system in place designed to regulate potentially hazardous hunting equipment so that the number of defective hunting tree stands on the market is kept to a minimum. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972, all hunting equipment manufacturers are required to immediately notify the CPSC upon the discovery of a flaw in the design of one of their products that presents a considerable safety risk to the hunting public. A determination is then made as to whether the equipment presents enough of a potential safety hazard to warrant a recall. If it appears that a hunting tree stand may injure a hunter due to failure of the device itself, a recall is immediately issued to take the product off of the market.

While hunting tree stand manufacturers frequently issue recalls on faulty equipment voluntarily, it is sometimes necessary for the federal government to step in a force the company to recall the equipment through the CPSC. In some cases, the CPSC intervenes because the agency became aware of a faulty or potentially dangerous product before the manufacturer had time to report a problem as required. In a handful of other cases, a hunting equipment manufacturer received reports that a particular hunting tree stand was defective and failed to report the issue to the CPSC or take the item off the market. In these egregious violations of federal law and public trust, the Department of Justice aggressively investigates the allegations and frequently brings the company to justice through a civil lawsuit filed by the federal government.

Unfortunately, a defective hunting tree stand poses serious safety to hunters, and there has been a long litany of serious injuries and even deaths of hunters who have been the victim of faulty hunting tree stands. The dangers posed by even a relatively mild injury sustained through a hunting tree stand accident are often compounded by the fact that the injured hunter may be unable to contact anyone for emergency assistance. The most common injury to hunters who experience the failure of this hunting equipment is broken bones and spinal cord injuries that are sustained with a hunter actually falls out of the stand and drops straight to hard forest floor below. The safety harness that most hunters use while sitting in a hunting tree stand is designed to keep a hunter from falling directly to the earth in the event of an accident, but hunters are sometimes injured through the harness itself when a defecting hunting tree stand fails.

Precautions

There are a handful of safety precautions that a hunter follow to seriously minimize the risk of injury when using a reliable hunting tree stand, as well as the risk posed by the failure of a damaged or defective stand.

First and foremost, be sure to complete proper research on your next hunting tree stand before making a purchase. These days, it is very easy to find reliable reviews of hunting tree stands featuring firsthand knowledge of any potential safety concerns for a particular model. When you are using your hunting tree stand out in the field, be sure to wear a safety harness. Users of hunting tree stands can also protect themselves by remembering to never carry their hunting equipment while climbing up or down a tree. Instead, hunters are advised to use a haul line to raise and lower their hunting equipment. Hunters are advised to always inspect their hunting tree stand before using it in the field for signs of wear and tear that may pose a safety hazard, and to keep up with safety recalls on hunting tree stands through the CPSC.

Sources:

  1. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/treestand/index.html

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