Children and their parents here in Cleveland are looking forward to a safe, happy holiday season. Parents and others buying gifts for children should enjoy their shopping, but be aware that toys may cause injury either because they are defective or are unsafe for certain age groups.
Last year, an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms — almost one injury every two minutes. Certainly not all these injuries were due to the toys being defective. However, if parents stay abreast of the defective toys that are recalled and keep some basic tips in mind, many injuries caused by toys can be avoided.
Toy Risks Vary by Child’s Age
Not surprisingly, risks to children vary according to their ages. The primary threat to toddlers and younger children is choking on small parts. About 14 children younger than age 5 choke on foreign objects every day in the U.S. Meanwhile, 42% of injuries to children ages 5-17 are from riding toys, including tricycles and manual scooters.
However, for children of all ages, falls are the most likely cause of injury (46%) while collisions are another major cause (22%). While it can be hard to control the exuberance of a child, parents can weigh whether or not their child is old enough and savvy enough to use some toys that are more likely than others to cause injuries.
Defective Toy Recalls Increased Last Year
Every year, toys are recalled due to design or manufacturing defects or the use of toxic substances. Many of these toys are made in the U.S., but many others are made overseas in countries that do not have the same standards we do. Sometimes quality control slips, and the distributor is not aware of it until damage is done.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls millions of toys each year, but the CPSC is not infallible. Last year, recalls of toys for design or manufacturing defects increased 12% from the year before. In fact, 2016 saw the highest level of recalls of children’s products since 2004. There were 76 children’s product recalls in 2016 and over 66.8 million total units, from sippy cups to strollers. Incidents, injuries and deaths also increased in 2016 with a total of 4,842 incidents, 394 injuries, and seven deaths reported before recalls were issued. These do not even include injuries that did not send children to emergency rooms.
Part of the problem is that even after a toy is recalled, a parent may not hear of the recall or even remember they bought the toy. For example, in October 2017, Toys “R” Us recalled nearly 30,000 Infant Wiggle Balls for a choking hazard caused when the plastic backs on the balls detached. These were widely sold in both the United States and Canada from June 2016 through January 2017. It is not uncommon for months to go by like this before a defective toy is recalled.
What Parents Can Do about Toy Recalls
Parents can check whether or not toys have been recalled at the Parents.com database or Safe Kids Worldwide, in addition to the CPSC website. These databases are not always comprehensive, so you may want to check more than one. Companies also are beginning to turn to social media to publicize recalls; in 2016, 60% of children’s products companies with Facebook pages used them to publicize recalls.
In addition to checking toy recall lists, parents can take a number of actions to help keep their children safe:
- Follow age recommendations. A toy that might be fine for an 11-year-old could be a choking hazard for a 5-year-old;
- Check for small parts if you have a young child;
- Be alert to the possible use of lead paint. (This is less and less common.);
- Make sure toys are in good condition. Check that the toy is sturdy and won’t break easily. Broken toys could have sharp edges or small pieces that come apart;
- Be aware of batteries that could choke a small child;
- Help children learn the proper way to play with toys to avoid injury.
If your child is injured or you think he or she may have been exposed to a toxic substance, contact your doctor or head to the emergency room immediately. Report any injuries to the manufacturer so they can take action to recall the toys.
When a Product Liability Lawsuit Can Help
If your child is injured due to a defective toy, the experienced defective products attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer and/or the distributor. You have a right to be compensated for your child’s medical expenses and other expenses related to their injury. Certainly this cannot make up for your child being hurt, but at the very least a company should be held responsible.
Under O.R.C. § 2307.73(A), your attorney will need to show the following to win a product liability lawsuit against a manufacturer:
- A product had a manufacturing defect, a design defect, inadequate warning or instruction, or did not conform to a representation by the manufacturer;
- The defect was the proximate cause of the harm to your child;
- The manufacturer designed, formulated, produced, constructed, created, assembled, or rebuilt the product that harmed your child.
If you don’t file a claim within the statute of limitations, you will lose all rights to compensation. In Ohio, that is usually two years for a personal injury case, but there are exceptions. The legal team at Plevin & Gallucci can advise you of the intricacies of your individual case. Contact us today for a free case review.