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Downturn in Number of Child Deaths Due to Clothing Industry’s Beneficial Industry Standards

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers were pleased to read about the recent downturn in the number of child deaths caused by clothing getting caught on vehicles or playground equipment, resulting from voluntary measures adopted by manufacturers.

According to a recent report by MSNBC, U.S. researchers have determined that the total number of deaths has declined as a result of design restrictions that were first introduced in 1997, which limited the use of drawstrings otherwise found on clothing such as children’s jackets and sweatshirts.

From 1985 through 1995, the government-backed U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recorded 17 drawstring-related deaths and 42 non-fatal injuries in children 14 years-old and younger, reported MSNBC. Some of those devastating incidents occurred because children were strangled when their drawstrings got caught on play equipment, or on school bus handrails. As a result, this new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that the guidelines endorsing fastenings such as buttons and Velcro have saved the lives of more than 50 children so far, based on the fact that calculations indicate a 91 percent decrease in deaths after the restrictions were put in place.

Similar to window blind cords, which, due to strangulation hazards, have also been subject to regulation, these types of products, by their very nature, can pose a significant risk to young children. When a company manufactures a product to be marketed to the public, the company is responsible for ensuring the safety of those products. There are three main types of Illinois product liability claims:
1. A manufacturing defect, which generally occurs when an otherwise safe product is assembled carelessly;
2. A design defect, which occurs when, no matter how well the product is put together, its intent or layout is inherently dangerous;

3. A failure to warn, which can occur when a product markets a product that they know to be potentially hazardous, and fails to warn consumers of the latent danger.

With potentially hazardous clothing, the type of liability incurred relates to the product’s design. No matter how well the articles of clothing are put together, they pose a risk of strangulation to children as a result of errant drawstrings. Because these products are inherently dangerous, if a child is harmed or killed because his or her clothing posed a risk of strangulation , the manufacturer could be held legally responsible for the damages caused, and an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit could potentially arise. A possible course of action under Illinois law would be to file an Illinois personal injury claim under the doctrine of Negligence per se, which would allow a court to use an industry standard or regulation that doesn’t otherwise discuss civil liability, to set the standard of care in a personal injury case. Because guidelines have been implemented to reduce the number of drawstrings found on children’s clothing, the manufacturer could potentially be held liable for failing to meet the standard of care if a non-conforming garment caused injury to the child.

Any Chicago personal injury lawyer would advocate that the best injury is one that is prevented before it happens. At this point, our Chicago personal injury attorneys want parents to be cautious, and urge parents to become educated about the safety hazards associated with these products. If at all possible, choose children’s clothing that is void of drawstrings or any other attachments that could become caught and create a strangulation hazard. With beneficial regulations and education, even more children’s lives can be saved.

We are especially proud of our Chicago personal injury attorneys and the changes that their efforts have brought with regard to dangerous products and Illinois product liability law. In many instances, they have not only recovered substantial verdicts and settlements for our clients, but also helped to ensure that the defective product was removed from the market and prevented from causing any further pain, suffering, and damage.

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