As we approach deer hunting season, many hunters are preparing by setting up tree stands. These are elevated platforms - usually 10 to 30 feet - that give hunters a greater vantage point and make it tougher for deer to pick up on human scent.
But these stands are known to be dangerous. In 2010, a decade-long study by trauma centers in Ohio, published in The American Surgeon medical journal, revealed tree stand falls were a bigger problem for hunters than gun shots, element exposure or animal encounters. These falls, which accounted for 60 percent of all hunting accidents, resulted in severe injuries, often broken bones and sometimes paralysis, quadriplegia, and traumatic brain damage.
The stands were first commercialized in the 1970s, and within 20 years there were more than 100 manufacturers. It wasn't until 2004 the stands came standard with harnesses, but emergency room doctors are finding many hunters aren't using them - or aren't using them correctly. In the case of Bradley v. Ameristep, Inc., however, it was alleged the ratchet straps were used properly by the hunter. The problem was they had degraded significantly from element exposure, rendering them unsafe.
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