Common Defects in Children’s Toys
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of George E. McLaughlin with McLaughlin Law Firm.
It’s no secret that certain children’s products are more prone to defects than others. Children’s toys in particular present unique hazards, especially to children under the age of 5 for which more warnings typically accompany the product. This is why manufacturers of products designed for children are required to meet highly specific safety standards for the industry, including accounting for reasonably foreseeable misuse of the product by a child. When a company fails to design and produce children’s toys with the utmost safety of the child in mind, the effects can range from frightening to tragic.
Common defects in children’s toys include the following:
- Small pieces that pose choking hazards
- Pieces that easily break off, posing choking and/or laceration hazards
- Toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing process
- Lack of warning labels or adequate instructions
- Use of flammable materials
- Faulty wiring
- Sharp edges on the toy
- Strings, ropes, ribbons, or other elements of the design posing strangulation hazards
- Heavy or unbalanced design posing a tipping hazard
Small, loose pieces are one of the most common defects in children’s toys, posing the risk of choking and suffocation if the child is unable to get enough air. However, overly large toys can present tipping hazards which pose a similar risk of suffocation with the addition of other injuries. These defects are well-known and understood in the toy manufacturing industry. Toy manufacturers are specifically required to safeguard against these and other defects; failing to do so not only exposes children to the possibility of serious injury, but exposes the manufacturer to significant liability as well.
Common injuries caused by defective toys include but are not limited to the following:
- Head entrapment
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Hearing loss
These injuries are side effects of poorly designed and manufactured toys that companies should be aware of. That said, a good way to avoid potential injuries is to avoid leaving your child unattended, and to stop using any toy or product you suspect may not be entirely safe. If you suspect a toy is dangerous, you might not be the only one; looking up the product to see if it has been recalled or if other parents have complained may give you a better idea of whether or not to allow your child to play with a certain product.
If your child has been injured by a potentially defective toy, consider the following steps:
- Seek medical care immediately. Seeking immediate medical treatment regardless of the apparent severity of the injury is important for several reasons. Your child’s health is the first priority in any defective toy case, and an injured child should receive medical care right away; this also ensures that an official record exists documenting what happened. Additionally, children often do not understand how to describe their own injuries, and may not be able to tell you if something feels wrong or if they are hurting. Finally, waiting to seek medical care for your child’s injuries could actually have a negative impact on your case further down the road.
- Take pictures of the toy and any resulting injuries. Some evidence you can collect right away if you suspect a toy is defective include pictures and even videos of the product and the resulting injuries. This evidence can help attorneys, product experts, and even jurors see how an injury might have resulted from the toy.
- Store the toy and accompanying material out of reach, but do not throw it away. The most important piece of evidence in any product liability case is the product itself. Do not throw away a potentially defective children’s toy, even if it has injured your child. If you have already turned it over to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you may ask to have it returned to you. It’s important to store this product as well as any accompanying materials such as packaging, instructions, and even purchase receipts somewhere safe and out of reach until it can be physically analyzed by experts. It’s important to leave the product as it was at the time of the injury; do not attempt to fix it before storing it.
- Talk to a product liability attorney as soon as possible. Product liability cases are notoriously complicated, and obtaining evidence from the manufacturer can be all but impossible for the average person. A product liability attorney can quickly evaluate your case in a free consultation, and even collect evidence on your behalf if you choose to file a claim. If hiring an attorney seems financially out of the question, it may help to note that most of these attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients don’t pay unless they win their case.
To learn more about common defects in children’s toys or for help assessing your case, reach out to a product liability attorney as soon as possible.