Defective cribs cause serious injury or death to tens of thousands of infants each year. So it's wise to learn how to check for crib recalls and federal crib safety regulations, understand the basics of defective crib lawsuits, and get tips on how to keep your children safe in the nursery.
In 2011, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that over 11 million cribs, bassinets, and play yards had been recalled since 2007. In 2007 alone, CPSC recalled 1,040,000 cribs and bassinets from just one manufacturer (Simplicity).
New Federal Safety Standards for Cribs Announced in 2011
New federal safety standards for cribs went into effect on June 28, 2011. The new federal rules include a ban on the manufacture and sale of all drop-side cribs; more durable mattress supports, slats, and crib hardware; and more rigorous safety testing procedures. To learn more about the new federal crib safety regulations, check out New Crib Safety Standards Take Effect (from Nolo's Personal Injury Blog) and visit the CPSC's online Crib Information Center.
Defective Crib Litigation
Crib recalls prompt many product liability lawsuits on behalf of families who allege that their children were killed or injured as a result of a defective crib. Families often sue the manufacturer, retailer, distributor, or any other business involved in making, transporting, or selling the crib. (To learn more about potential defendants in a defective crib lawsuit, see Nolo's article Defective Product Liability Claims: Who to Sue?)
Families suing a crib manufacturer, retailer, or distributor must prove that the crib was defective and that the defect specifically caused injury or death to the child. In addition, the family must show that it was using the crib properly. This last element often forms the crux of the manufacturer's defense to a lawsuit. Manufacturers argue that the injury or death to the child occurred because the child was left unattended or because caregivers misused the product or did not follow the manufacturer instructions or safety guidelines. (To learn about the specific elements required in a defective crib lawsuit, see Nolo's article Proving a Defective Product Liability Claim.)
Crib Safety Guidelines
Child safety experts recommend that parents be proactive in protecting their children from defective nursery equipment by frequently checking the CPSC crib recall list (at www.cpsc.gov/info/cribs). In addition, experts urge parents to follow CPSC guidelines for creating a safe sleeping environment for their children. Below are some helpful tips for parents and caregivers.
- Never place pillows or thick quilts in a baby's sleep environment. (These could suffocate the baby).
- The mattress should be firm and tight-fitting. Gaps between the sides of the crib and mattress should not be larger than two fingers.
- Carefully follow instructions when assembling the crib. If you are not sure of something, call the manufacturer for assistance.
- Do not use old, broken, or modified cribs. A large number of injuries and deaths are caused by used cribs.
- Hardware should be securely fastened.
- Check for loose or missing slats.
- Properly set up play yards according to manufacturers' directions. Only use the mattress pad provided with the play yard; do not add extra padding.
- Never place a crib near a window with blind or curtain cords; babies can strangle on the cords.
- Always place infants on their back for sleeping.
For More Information
To learn more about product liability claims, see How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Joseph Matthews (Nolo).