New safety standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) affecting “play yards,” portable playpens for infants and toddlers, will begin in December. Play yards are currently subject to voluntary safety standards, but the new standards will be mandatory for all manufacturers. During the four-year period ending in December 2011, according to the CPSC, play yards were involved in the deaths of over sixty children and injuries to nearly two hundred more. Play yards have reportedly been the subject of over twenty recalls during a twenty-five-year period. The new standards are part of a comprehensive set of reforms to children’s product safety known as Danny’s Law, named for a child who died due to a play yard collapse.
A typical play yard is a portable crib or playpen composed largely of mesh. In addition to acting as a crib for infants and toddlers, it can provide them an enclosed area in which to play. Children have died when a collapsing play yard traps them, while trapped under a mattress or other component, or by strangulation from straps attached to the sides. Some deaths resulted when children climbed out of a play yard and drowned in a nearby pool. The most common incident, according to the CPSC, involves a side rail collapse. In addition to the danger of a child getting out of the play yard after a collapse, it can also cause strangulation if a child’s neck is caught in the side rail. Side rail collapses account for up to ninety percent of reported play yard incidents and as many as one-third of play yard-related deaths. A side rail collapse reportedly caused the death of Danny Keysar, the namesake of Danny’s Law, in 1998 in Chicago.
The new mandatory standards for play yards incorporate the terms of the earlier voluntary standards. Play yards must undergo tests for stability and floor strength to ensure that they will not tip over or collapse in a way that traps a child. They must also pass “entrapment tests” to determine whether a child’s head may become trapped by an accessory like a bassinet or changing table, or by moving or folding parts. Any folding parts, such as those that allow a play yard to disassemble or collapse for storage, must have locking mechanisms to keep them intact while in use. Sides of all play yards must meet a minimum height to keep children from exiting without supervision.
Manufacturers of faulty or defective play yards may be liable for injuries or deaths caused by a collapse or malfunction under the legal theory of products liability. Children’s products that pose a danger to the children using them may have a design or manufacturing defect. This is a flaw or error in the product’s design, or in the way it was assembled, that renders it unsafe for use by certain consumers. Many product liability cases involve a strict liability standard, meaning that a plaintiff does not need to prove the defendant’s negligence or fault, only that the defendant manufactured an unsafe product that caused an injury.
The Washington, DC injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen help people injured due to faulty, defective, or dangerous products to recover their just compensation. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or call (800) 654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
New Crib Safety Standards Aim to Protect Infants and Toddlers from Injury and Death, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 28, 2011
Washington DC Strangulation Accident Prompts Baby Monitor Recall, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 11, 2011
Preventing Maryland Injuries to Children: Latest CPSC Baby Product Recalls Include Recliners, Pacifiers, Playards and Drop-Side Cribs, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 26, 2010
Photo credit: ‘Smiling in the pack-n-play’ by Drew Zuckerman (Flickr: Smiling in the pack-n-play) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.