Dangerous Children Toys
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jan V. Hinson with Tilton & Tilton LLP.
Children’s toys have long been the target of product liability claims, and understandably so. Children are considered particularly vulnerable to product injuries due to a lack of developed understanding for basic safety as well as the inability to describe with clarity or at all what they are experiencing. Toys made with small or loose pieces, faulty wiring, long strings, or toxic materials can all pose significant risks to unsuspecting children. Parents can help mitigate this risk by keeping up with recall notices, adhering to product warning labels, and removing a toy they suspect might not be safe for their child to play with. However, the bulk of the responsibility for ensuring the toys a child plays with are safe falls to the manufacturer of the toy itself.
The designers and manufacturers of children’s products have an increased responsibility to know what makes a safe child’s toy and what does not. There are industry safety regulations these parties are expected to know and follow, and even including a warning label on a product does not necessarily waive their liability in the event of a child’s injury.
Dangerous types of children toys may include the following:
- Kick scooters
- Motorized child vehicles
- Baking toys
- Small magnet sets
- Inflatable baby boats
- Projectile or launching toys
- Toys with pieces small enough to swallow
- Toys made with cheap metal or paint that may contain lead
- Toys made with materials that may be flammable
The above categories of toys may contain a range of products, some considered safe while others are not. One of the biggest factors in figuring out whether a product can be considered defective and unsafe is whether or not the manufacturer accounted for foreseeable misuse of the product. Children’s products in particular carry a strong risk of being misused by children who do not understand safety guidelines or instructional pamphlets; this is why toy designers are required to consider the ways a child could reasonably be expected to misuse a product and account for it in their design.
A toy that could be reasonably safe for a child with specific safeguards in place could be extremely dangerous without. For example, children’s toys that contain magnets on the inside or as a larger, detachable part of the toy present less of a hazard than toys that involve tiny, detachable magnets that could be swallowed, resulting in bowel obstruction and pinched organs.
If your child has suffered an injury due to a toy, consider the following steps:
- Seek emergency medical care. First and foremost it is imperative to seek emergency medical care as soon as possible whenever your child may have suffered an injury from a children’s toy. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent and can be even harder to detect when a child is unable to describe what happened or what they are experiencing. Prioritizing your child’s health ensures that trained medical staff can identify and treat a potential problem right away, and also provides you with a medical record to prove when and how the injury occurred if you choose to pursue legal recourse down the road.
- Preserve the product. Do not throw away a toy that may have injured your child. Instead, take pictures of the product in the state it was at the time of the injury then store it in a safe place out of reach until it can be analyzed by a product safety expert. If you have already turned in the toy to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) you may ask to have it returned to you. This in addition to any packaging or instructional material that came with the product are important pieces of evidence for your case.
- Talk to an attorney. Product liability cases are notoriously complicated; with so many parties involved, it can be difficult to track down where the defect originated from and who is strictly responsible. Additionally, the damages resulting from a product injury can be wide-ranging, and although they might appear easily identifiable at first, it can be easy to miss important things that you and your family should be compensated for in a product liability claim.
To learn more about dangerous children’s toys or for help filing a claim if your child has been injured, reach out to a product liability attorney sooner rather than later.