New toys enter the marketplace every day. In recent years, hover boards, fidget spinners, and other must-have toys have entered the spotlight as potentially unsafe gadgets. Parents should be able to trust toy manufacturers and marketing messages. When toy companies fail to design, manufacture, and label toys with child safety in mind, consumers retain the right to take legal action.
According to the most recent information from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11 children under the age of 15 died from toy-related incidents in 2015. During the same year, hospitals treated around 254,200 injuries involving toys. The majority of incidents involve ridable toys, including motorized scooters and non-motorized riding toys.
When Manufacturers Are Liable
Unsafe toys and toy defects fall under the category of product liability laws. Toy companies and other product manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries that arise from unsafe designs, manufacturing defects, and inadequate warnings and instructions. These companies are not always liable for toy-related accidents, but they may bear liability in certain incidents.
Consider, for example, a toy that contains reasonable age restrictions featured prominently on the packaging, a complete set of instructions, and safety warnings. If manufacturers designed the toy for quiet, indoor play and a child used it to create an amateur backyard zip line and suffered a head injury, the toy company would likely not face liability for the incident. If, on the other hand, the child uses the toy as intended and sharp parts cause deep penetration wounds, the company may face liability.
If your child suffers a serious injury or illness after playing with a toy, consider the circumstances. Toy companies are only responsible for injuries that arise from unsafe product qualities during reasonable and foreseeable use cases. They are not responsible for injuries that take place from reckless and clearly unintended use cases.
What to Do After a Toy-Related Injury
Product liability claims rely heavily on physical evidence. The toy that caused the injury can help investigators determine if the unsafe quality arose from the product design, manufacturing process, or marketing materials. Evidence can also help plaintiffs determine if the manufacturer or another party should face liability for the incident.
While parents rarely want to hold onto toys that cause injury, we strongly advise that you do so. Place the offensive toy in a safe place until you can speak to an attorney about your situation. Always take your child to see a physician after an injurious incident involving a toy.
An unsafe toy attorney can help you determine the next steps in a product liability claim. In some cases, he or she may recommend that you join a class action lawsuit with other consumers who have experienced similar incidents and injuries. In cases involving hover boards back in 2015 and 2016, for example, several individuals experienced similar injuries due to toy-related explosions and fires. In these and similar cases, your attorney may recommend joining a class action complaint to effect wide scale change within the toy industry.
In many product liability claims, the injured party does not need to prove negligence to secure a fair settlement or verdict. Instead, they need only prove the product’s unsafe quality proximately caused an injury during normal case uses. If, however, you know about an unsafe quality and continue to allow your child to play with the toy, you may forfeit your right to compensation.
Pursuing an Unsafe Toy Claim
Lawsuits involving unsafe toys play an important role in consumer safety. If parents and guardians do not come forward after their children suffer preventable injuries while playing, others will face the same risks and possibly the same injuries. Act as soon as possible after the injury takes place to protect your child’s rights and prevent toy manufacturers from putting other children at risk. Sometimes, legal action serves as the most effective way to hold careless manufacturers accountable.