When a child is the victim of a dangerous toy, a personal injury lawyer reviews the case to determine if the injury was caused by defects. If it is proven that the child would not have been injured if it were not for the defect in the toy, the manufacturer may be held liable. Courts may then order monetary awards to families to compensate them for the cost of medical treatment, pain and suffering, and financial loss.
A Dangerous History
Toys to distract, entertain and educate children have always been with us. Some are designed to simulate adult activities like cooking, cleaning, or using tools. Others delight them with color, sound, and moving parts.
Fidget spinners are the latest novelty toy in a long line of fads that have swept the nation. Advertised as useful for children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, or just plain anxiety, they are present everywhere. Opinion may be divided about their value, but one thing is certain. The reports of injuries to children caused by these and other dangerous toys are rising.
While many toys are safe, a personal injury lawyer will attest that each year toys injure thousands of children. In fact, toy-related accidents send over 250,000 children to the hospital annually or about one every three minutes.
Negligent design, fabrication, packaging, shipping or marketing can make even the most attractive toy dangerous. Some toy designers fail to understand that children do not have the same reasoning and cognitive ability as adults.
The consequence of these design failures is often serious injury. Children suffering from broken bones, blocked airways, head trauma and impaired digestive tracts end up in hospital emergency rooms. In some cases, families face the heartbreak of a child’s death.
Recognizing Dangerous Toys
Parents are the first line of defense in preventing injuries from dangerous toys, not the personal injury lawyer. Safety must be a priority in the decision to allow children access to any toy. Toys that could pose a hazard to a child usually have some common characteristics. Parents and caregivers should beware of toys that:
- Have small pieces or detachable parts – Many injuries to small children result from ingestion or inhalation of small pieces that accompany many toys.
- Shoot or launch things – A toy designed to launch a projectile, even a soft one, can cause injury to a small child.
- Are tempting to eat – If it looks tasty, children may think its food and may not be able to resist putting it in their mouths.
- Contain magnets – Magnets can attract each other in a child’s digestive tract causing blockages, infections, and ulcers.
- Have strings, ribbons, or wires – Long cords that come as part of some toys can become wrapped around a small child’s neck.
- Contain potentially dangerous substances – Chemicals, lead, paints and other substances in toys may be hazardous even to touch. Small children put their hands in their mouths frequently and substances transferred from a toy to their fingers will often find its way into a child’s system.
Recognizing dangerous toys is the first step. Safeguarding children from them requires parents to be proactive.
Making Sure Toys are Age Appropriate
Parents should ensure that a toy is right for the child’s age. A small child may not possess the necessary strength and physical agility to operate a riding toy, and younger children are more likely to put small toy pieces in their mouths.
Manufacturing materials, country of origin and unusual chemicals used in the toy fabrication should always be reviewed. Caregivers and parents should ensure that the toy comes from a reputable manufacturer and contains no harmful substances.
Plastic wrap and fasteners used in packaging can be dangerous to small children. Discarding packing materials in a place that is out of reach to children can prevent packaging-related injuries.
Studies show that an unsupervised child is much more likely to be injured than one under the close supervision of a parent or caregiver. Attention to children’s activities is the surest way to safeguard kids from dangerous toys.
Are Toy Manufacturers Liable for Injuries to Children?
Whether a toy manufacturer is liable for injuries to a child depends on a number of factors. All manufacturers are responsible for injuries their products cause to others. Shippers, suppliers, retailers, marketers, and others along the distribution chain may also be held responsible for the injuries those products cause if their negligence contributed to the injury.
Producers of toys are not exempt and are subject to the same product liability laws as other manufacturers. Liability for an injury may result from:
- Defective or negligent manufacture, workmanship, construction, packaging, or shipment
- Defective or negligent design
- Defective or negligent marketing and failure to warn of hazards associated with their toys