Our experienced Sacramento & Elk Grove attorneys at O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm understand the risks children are exposed to when playing with dangerous toys, as well as the costs of medical treatment and the physical and emotional suffering both child and parents can endure when injured by a defective children's product. Because small children are so defenseless, the injuries they sustain when a toy, crib, highchair or safety seat malfunctions can be devastating. If a manufacturer puts a defective product on the market that hurts a child, it can and should be held legally responsible for the injuries it causes.
The Risks of Defective Toys
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls each year more than 100 defective baby and children's toys and products. Unfortunately, these recalls usually came after children have already been injured. Children products manufacturing companies have imposed strict rules over the years, however way too many products are still being recalled. Some of the most common types of dangerous toys include:
- Stuffed animals
- Magnetic toys
- Kitchen sets
- Rocking horses
- Toy guns
Children are exposed to risks because of one or more of the following problems:
- Choking hazard: caused by small parts that can break from a toy
- Suffocation dangers
- Heating elements: Electric or battery-powered toys may overheat and cause burns
- Dangerous chemicals used in manufacturing certain toys
- Lead paint: banned in the U.S.A. but still present in many imported toys, if ingested the paint can cause behavior problems, learning disabilities, seizure and even death
- Sharp edges: can cause lacerations, cuts, puncture wounds or eye injuries
- Lack of warning labels: without a warning parents might not realize that a certain toy is inappropriate for children under a particular age
Defective Toys Statistics
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff received nine reports of toy-related deaths that occurred in the 2013 calendar year among children younger than 15 years old. Moreover, all nine victims were younger than 12 years of age. Other toy-related deaths and injuries facts include:
- Riding toys were associated with 22% (two) of the nine reported deaths in 2013.
- In 2013 the vast majority of toy-related deaths were due to asphyxiation (seven deaths - including one possible asphyxiation case).
- In 2013 an estimated 256,700 toy-related injuries occurred and were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments.
- There is not a statistically significant trend in the estimated number of toy-related injuries from 2009 to 2013, for all individuals, children younger than 15 years, children 12 years of age or younger, or children younger than five years.
- 43% of the estimated injuries treated in emergency departments are classified as lacerations, contusions, or abrasions. 44% of these estimated injuries occurred in the head and face area.
- In 2013, males accounted for 58% (148,100 in numbers) of the estimated toy-related injuries.
- 96% of the emergency department-treated, toy-related injury victims were treated and released.
- Of the 256,700 estimated toy-related injuries, which were ER treated, an estimated 73% (188,400) occurred in children younger than 15 years of age; an estimated 69 % (178,100) occurred in children 12 years of age or younger; an estimated 33% (83,700) happened to children younger than 5 years of age.
The majority of toy-related deaths involve:
- Some motorized toy, skateboards, scooters
- Drowning, suffocation, strangulation
- Riding toy accidents and being hit by a car.
Riding toys are associated with more injuries than any other group of toys. In 2005, more than 58,000 children received treatment in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries sustained from a riding toy.
What Do I Need to Know about Filing a Defective Toys Legal Claim?
A toy can be defective in a number of ways:
- The defect may be in the original design of the product
- A flaw in the manufacturing process may account for the defect
- Marketing defects can include products that were mislabeled, lacked proper warnings or have been falsely advertised.
Any of the entities involved in the production or distribution of a dangerous product can be held accountable for the injuries caused.
Therefore, the possible sources of financial compensation in a defective children's toys case can be:
- The manufacturer
- The parts vendor
- The distributor
- The retailer.
In all product liability cases, it's best to secure the evidence as soon as possible. Do not attempt to fix the defective toy, do not destroy it or return it to the manufacturer. The dangerous product has to be maintained in the same condition it was when it harmed the victim.
Laws Regarding Defective Toys
There are millions of toys sold every year that endanger kids. The manufacturers of these toys need to be held liable if their products injure a child.
The Child Safety Protection Act demands toy and game manufacturers to place warning signs that are visible on the package for small balls, marbles, balloons and other toys and games, which contain small parts.
The Hazardous Substances Act bans games, toys and children's clothing from containing dangerous materials or substances, to include lead or other elements that present hazards.
If you buy a toy or game that you suspect it doesn't comply with federal regulations, contact the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to report your concerns. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in - or imported into - the United States after 1995 must comply with their standards.
They also keep a list of defective toys and other children's products that have been recalled due to safety hazards. This is a valuable resource for parents who want to be sure they purchase safe items for their children.
Toys are most commonly recalled because they:
- Pose a choking hazard
- Pose a risk of fire
- Present a risk of serious cuts (toys with sharp edges)
- They violate the established lead paint standards.
- Use dangerous chemicals in the manufacturing process (this affects especially young kids who tend to chew their toys)
How to Keep Children Safe from Defective Toys?
Manufacturers have to follow strict guidelines and label new toys for specific age groups. Always check for the age group, especially if you may think that your child can handle toys meant for older kids. Remember that the age levels for toys are based on safety factors, not maturity or intelligence.
Although it's not always possible, probably the most important thing a parent can do is to supervise play.
Steer clear of older toys that are certainly cost-effective and might have emotional value and, but they:
- May not meet the up-to-date safety standards
- May be worn from play, and they can break at any point, becoming hazardous.
Always make sure a toy isn't too loud for your child. The noise of some musical toys or squeaky toys can be very loud, and it can damage the hearing.
Wheeled toys, including bicycles, scooters, and skateboards, should always be used with a helmet and pads to prevent injuries.
Check the toys carefully for small parts and follow the manufacturer's age recommendations.
If there are children of various ages in your home, do not allow younger kids to play with their older siblings' toys. Make sure that toys with small parts are always out of an infant's reach.
The number of toy recalls in the United States has continuously dropped since 2008 when new regulations increased the restrictions on the amount of toxic heavy metals, like lead and other chemicals in children's toys. However, defective children's toys are still out there, and the best thing to do is to make adults aware of the fact that they should examine toys carefully when toy-shopping.
In 2008 only, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued 142 toy recalls due to materials or defective parts that could injure children. In 2011, 34 toy recalls were issued, meaning the tough regulations and greater enforcement reached their purpose.
However, the number of deaths in the United States from toy-related injuries remains alarmingly high. In 2011, 17 children were killed by toy-related injuries, mostly choking on small parts (a 30 % increase from 2010).
How Can O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm Help?
If your child has been exposed to a dangerous or recalled toy, our Sacramento & Elk Grove-based lawyer can help. The first thing you need to do is to have your child medically tested for any possible injuries or poisoning from chemicals or lead paint. In case damages are discovered, you should bring the child's medical records to our Sacramento or Elk Grove offices. We also advise you to keep the defective toy properly stored, as it might be needed later as evidence.
Proving product liability claims against toy manufacturing companies is not an easy process. If you choose our office, we'll provide you with high-quality legal services, and we'll pursue the proper compensation you and your child deserve both for financial and emotional damages.
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