Flux of window fall accidents spark safety device debates
Recent statistics gathered by the National Safe Kids Campaign show that an average of 4700 children in the United States are treated after a fall out of a window on an annual basis. Of those 4700 children who fall, between 12 and 20 die each year because of these falls and most of those deaths happen to children below the age of five.
In 2000, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that they would be setting new safety standards for window fall prevention devices that helped parents protect their kids from falling out of windows. New window industry standards back then were supposed to ensure that fall guards were sturdy enough to prevent kids from falling in single family homes and the first few floors of apartment buildings that are easily opened in the wake of a fire. One case in particular, the fall of a two-year-old in Minnesota in 2006, changed a state law about the effectiveness of window safety guards. It was the first of its kind in the United States. The law went into effect in July of 2009 and is now known as “Laela’s Law” by its presenters.
The safety standards were set for the devices; however, there are still no concrete laws about having prevention devices in homes with children. But the amount of falls per year has the CPSC, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and lawmakers in general questioning the way windows are manufactured. The debate about mandating safety windows for people with kids and disallowing certain types of windows because of the way they open has been particularly present here in Pittsburgh because of the four window fall accidents we’ve had around town in the last few weeks. One in particular, a case where a five-year-old fell out of a window in Ross Township mere feet away from her mother who was tending to another child, begs the questions: “Should window guards be mandatory?” and “Should window manufacturers be held accountable for negligence when these accidents happen?”
Many say that it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children are safe and that fall-resistant windows are already made available. Others say that all window manufacturers should place safeguards on their windows in the event that a purchaser has children. Similar arguments have been made in the past for electrical outlet covers, so it seems this sort of cyclic rhetoric will make its way back to “the news” the next time we have a tragic electrocution accident in the area. But the real question here is: “What happens when safety windows fail?”
Before we answer that question, however, we must know a few things. Safety windows are ineffective if they’re not installed properly, nor are they effective if components or mechanisms in the safety guard fail. The difficulty here is trying to figure out if it was the installer, the manufacturer, or both who are at fault for the accident. If you have a child who was seriously injured or died from a fall out of a window, then it is important that you secure quality legal counsel that can advise you of your rights as the parent of a victim, as well as perform proper investigations into how and why the accident happened. If you have questions regarding window falls or other accidents in the home, you can contact Goodrich and Geist at 800-806-2456 today for a free preliminary consultation.