Earlier this week, a woman in New Jersey was seriously injured when a beach umbrella impaled her leg. A gust of wind pulled the umbrella from the sand and sent it flying. Unfortunately for the woman, it landed on her, and one of the umbrella’s spokes pierced her ankle. Police used a bolt cutter to cut away the rest of the umbrella, and she was taken to the hospital with part of the spoke still in her leg.
This may seem like a freak accident, but it’s not unheard of. In 2016, a woman was killed in Virginia Beach when a beach umbrella caught the wind, and the main shaft was driven into her chest. According to the forensic pathologist, the umbrella struck her with 16,000 pounds-per-square inch of force and injured her heart.
Another man in Virginia lost his eye in 2015 when a flying beach umbrella hit him in the face.
Considering how common it is for beach umbrellas to be torn from the sand in the wind, and considering how much damage they can cause, a person might ask – could these umbrellas have been designed to be safer? Could they have been set up differently? Did these injuries have to happen? Is anyone responsible?
When poorly designed products cause injuries, sometimes a products liability claim is reasonable. If a manufacturer knows (or should know) that its products are unreasonably dangerous, a person injured by that product can seek justice in the courts. Part of a manufacturer’s responsibility is to design its products to eliminate avoidable dangers. Careful research is necessary to establish whether any product is unreasonably dangerous, and an experienced lawyer can help evaluate a claim.
In the meantime, you can take the following precautions while using beach umbrellas to help prevent them from flying away:
Always read the user’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Drive the shaft of the umbrella as deeply into the sand as you can, and then pour a bucket of water around the base. The water will help pack the sand down and hold the shaft more tightly.
If your umbrella doesn’t already come with one, consider buying an anchor designed to hold it in place.
Always tilt the umbrella toward the wind.
Take your umbrella down if you feel winds picking up, especially if you see other umbrellas starting to lift off.
With these tips, you’ll be less likely to lose your beach umbrella on a windy day, and more likely to avoid a serious accident. If you or a loved one are injured by a beach umbrella – or any product you think may not have been designed properly – SUGARMAN’s personal injury lawyers can help. Fill out a contact form, call us at (617) 542-1000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond as soon as possible.