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Children Safety: John M. O'Brien Urges Parents to Analyze Toys

Posted on December 08th, 2013 by Staff

Holidays are just around the corner, and you’re probably searching the best Christmas present for your little ones.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) released the 28th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report in which the parents and caregivers are advised to be vigilant this Christmas, since “There is no comprehensive list of potentially hazardous toys.”

So it’s up to you to carefully examine toys carefully for potential dangers before you make a purchase. In 2011 alone, 13 kids were killed while playing with toys and 193,000 more got injured.

According to today.com, in 2012, dozens of toys were recalled due to safety or health risks, while almost 2 million more were blocked from entering the market. Although the authorities do their part of inspecting and checking the toys, only a small percentage of the entire production is being analyzed in the end. The result is that dangerous toys make it onto store shelves and from there, into our homes, across the country.

Although toy recalls have decreased in the past few years, in 2013 there were still 31 toy recalls.

How Can Toys Lead To Tragic Events

In general, every parent says his kid’s wishes come first, but from past unfortunate experiences, personal injury lawyer John M. O’Brien feels the need to reach out to parents and ask them to put safety first and avoid dangerous toys. These toys bear the risks of choking, lead poisoning or deafening.

Following an NBCNews release on toys-related hazards, Mr. O’Brien raises awareness and asks the parents to consider the facts that “Toys may become a real danger." The sources of concern are numerous, especially in the case of toys for infants and toddlers, where little parts, small balls or food toy items are considered dangerous and come with possible choking hazards. Toys for children between 4 and 6 have to carry small parts warnings. The main toy hazards derive from:

  • Toys with small parts that can be easily pulled loose and pose choking hazards
  • Toys with small parts and label violations
  • Floor toys with cords or strings that can strangle babies
  • Electric plug-in toys may result in serious injuries. Burns and shocks result from frayed cords, prolonged use or misuse
  • Rounded food toys (represent a choking hazard)
  • Plastic wrapping can suffocate a small child
  • If balloons are popped and put in mouth, breathing can be blocked, so kids under 8 shouldn’t play with them unattended.

You can report any unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC via saferproduct.gov or by calling 1-800-638-2772.

Safety Toy Tips from the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm

To make sure a toy is suitable for your child’s use, first check the label. Most toys on the market are safe. However, injuries still occur and the first step in preventing toy-related injuries is to be informed.

Toy makers have the duty to determine the age grading of a toy which is placed on the label. The labels must state that the toy is unsafe for children under age 3 and specify the reason for the warning.

The age recommendation placed on a toy’s label reflects the safety of using that toy and it’s based on the following categories:

  • The physical ability of the child to play with the toy
  • The mental ability of a child to know how to use the toy
  • The play needs and interests present at various levels of a child's development
  • The safety aspects of a particular toy.

Families with children of various ages should consider the fact that toys for older children pose a hazard to the younger ones.

To prevent toy-related accidents and injuries, it’s better to take some safety steps, such as:

  • When purchasing a toy, consider your child’s age
  • Carefully read the label and the instructions and make sure it’s just right for your child
  • Make sure there aren’t any small parts or similar potential choking hazards
  • Use a special container to store your child’s toys in between play times
  • Avoid toys with a cord or string longer than 12 inches.

California - The Main Source of Counterfeit Toys in the U.S.

Unfortunately, toy manufacturers are too often negligent regarding safety issues. Besides this basic risk, U.S. customers are exposed to another serious problem: counterfeit toys invaded our market and their majority is substandard from the safety point of view.

In July 2013 the Interpol in collaboration with authorities conducted several raids to identify counterfeit products. As a result, a total of 25 million items, worth more than $125 million were seized in the U.S. and worldwide. Many manufacturing sites were also shut down as illegal marketers often use the internet to distribute their products.

Counterfeit products represent serious risks not just to the regular customer but also for the economy. These items are usually less expensive as manufacturers do not respect quality standards and they are not paying taxes. Considering that customers do buy these products, the sales of original products are affected and legal manufacturers have no other choice but to raise their prices.

In these conditions protecting intellectual property becomes vital for many companies. Recently a variety of measures have been taken to stop counterfeiting. Besides raids organized by government agencies, manufacturers also implemented different techniques. For example, automated detection systems allow companies to detect online uses of their trade names. Ad network companies like Google can also play a major role in this process as they develop techniques for identifying ads for counterfeit goods.

Counterfeit toys might be cheaper but they often carry risks no parent should assume. For example lead-based paint has been banned in the U.S. in 1978 as it can cause nervous system damage, kidney damage and delayed development.

However certain toys made in China are still painted with lead-based colors. These products are especially dangerous to children as due to their sweet taste, kids tend to put them in their mouth.

Besides lead poisoning, counterfeit products expose children to choking hazard due to detachable small components. Electric shocks can also be sustained from improperly designed or manufactured toys. Stuffed animals, magnetic toys, toy guns and swimming pool toys are among the most dangerous types.

There are many ways in which a toy can be defective including a defect in the original design, a manufacturing flaw, mislabeling, lack of proper warnings and false advertising. Nevertheless, your child can sustain a wide range of injuries that can affect his further development or worse, threaten his life.

How Can the Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm Help You Build a Case?

We care about your Christmas and we want you to have the best memories, that’s why the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm urges parents to carefully analyze toys before and after purchase. In the unfortunate event of an accident involving a toy, Mr. John M. O'Brien & Mr. Zehnder can help protect you and your child from the negligence of manufacturers of defective toys. He can advise you of your legal rights under the specific circumstances of your case. In order to be prepared and informed about your options, here are the three types of negligence that serve as grounds for a product liability case: 

  • Manufacturing defect - a manufacturing flaw makes the toy dangerous
  • Failure to warn - if a toy has the potential to harm users then it should have a warning label
  • Design defect - the toy is properly manufactured, but its danger comes from a defective design. 

So if your child was injured by a poorly designed toy, a defective toy or one without a proper warning label, contact John M. O'Brien, one of the best personal injury lawyers in California, Sacramento, and Elk Grove areas.