Ever had your flesh sliced by a snap bracelet? Or how about your child feeling drugged after accidentally eating part of a toy? Maybe your son was playing CSI and the finger print powder eerily mimicked the affects of asbestos. These are all real cases of defective children’s toys. And yes, as outrageous as it sounds, GHB, a common date-rape drug, was found in Aqua Dots. And Spin Master (the makers) knew about it! Needless to say, they paid $1.3 million in fines. Countless other toys have caused unnecessary suffering and while many of the manufacturers paid damages in a lawsuit or outright halted production, some still remain on the market.
Toys manufactured for children under the age of 14 are required to go through a rigorous government-approved safety inspection. If a toy has a problem, the manufacturer must put a warning label on the product listing the specific issues the toy could cause. Sometimes a toy with a warning can still be defective and cause injury, under which case you can file a personal liability claim.
The three types of liability claims are defective manufacture, defective design, and failure to provide adequate warnings on how to properly use the product. If your child suffers an injury from a toy, you can argue that the design or manufacture of the toy is responsible. Sometimes the warnings on the package are inadequate. Regardless of warnings, a defective product can lead to a lawsuit. It is not always the manufacturer who is found to be negligent. Retail stores where the toys are sold have a duty to ensure the products they sell are safe.
Remember, even if a warning is present on the package, its presence will not necessarily determine if a manufacturer or retailer is liable for a child’s injury. Many of these toy manufacturers are aware of possible dangers, yet they refuse to acknowledge them in the form of a warning label.
Another large culprit is lead in toys. Lead can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs, damage the nervous system, and lead to high blood pressure. Federal law restricts the amounts of lead manufacturers can put in children’s toys. Dangerous amounts can still be found if the toy was bought from another country or was found used, manufactured in a time before these restrictions were the norm (the regulation was put into place on August 14, 2011).
When I was a kid, I was ecstatic to receive a chemistry set as a birthday gift. My dad and I performed one of the experiments, following the instructions exactly. After the experiment succeeded, we both began to feel drowsy and passed out. We woke up from that unplanned nap with the worst migraines of our lives. Dad quickly threw the entire set in the trash. I don’t recall if there was a warning on the box or not but looking back, we should have taken legal action. There’s no telling what kind of permanent damage we might have incurred!
If you or your family experience anything similar, Reich and Binstock can help you receive compensation and take the steps to get dangerous toys off the market.