Most people are aware of the dangers posed by children playing in the street or swimming unattended at the local pool. Few realize, however, that children’s toys can be just as dangerous if they are negligently designed or manufactured. Injuries caused by dangerous toys can be extremely serious and in some cases, even life-threatening, so if you live in or near Charlotte and your child was injured by a toy, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you seek compensation for your medical expenses.
Toys with certain features are known for being dangerous for young children, including:
- Toys operated by toxic batteries that could be swallowed;
- Toys with sharp and uneven edges;
- Toys equipped with electronics or electrical parts;
- Toys made from toxic or dangerous materials; and
- Toys containing small parts that can easily break off and become lodged in a child’s throat.
The most common injuries resulting from these types of defects include:
- Eye injuries;
- Suffocation; and
Generally, children who are under the age of five years old are more likely to suffer injuries related to ingestion, aspiration, and laceration, while older children are more likely to sustain other injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations.
Eye injuries are a particularly common type of toy-related injury and can result in temporary or even permanent vision loss. Eye injuries are not always obvious, so it’s important for parents and guardians to be on the look-out for signs of eye damage, which could include:
- Cut or torn eyelids;
- One eye not moving as well as the other;
- An unusual pupil size or shape;
- Pain or difficulty seeing;
- The presence of blood in the clear part of the eye; or
- An object being lodged under the eyelid that cannot be removed.
Parents who recognize these signs of eye injury in their child should seek emergency medical care immediately.
Many toy-related injuries are the result of a child playing with a toy that is inappropriate for his or her age or because of a lack of supervision. In some cases, however, the injury was solely due to a defective design or a manufacturing process that made use of toxic or dangerous materials. When a child is injured as a result of a manufacturing or design defect, the injured party’s parent or guardian can file a product liability claim on his or her behalf. There are three main types of product liability suits, which include the following claims:
- The toy had a manufacturing defect, which means that a product does not conform to the original design plan;
- The toy had a design defect, which means that a product’s original design was faulty and unreasonably dangerous; or
- The toy had a warning defect, which means that the manufacturer failed to warn the user of an unreasonably dangerous condition.
North Carolina does not enforce the legal theory of strict liability, which means that injured parties must demonstrate that a manufacturer or seller was negligent or breached a warranty in order to recover. Additionally, if a plaintiff argues that a toy was defectively designed, he or she will have the burden of providing evidence of the existence of a safer, practical, feasible, and reasonable alternative design that would have prevented or substantially reduced the risk of harm without damaging the object’s desirability. Keeping the toy that injured a child is critical to the success of a case. It’s also a good idea to keep the receipt recording the purchase.
By establishing a toy maker’s negligence, an injured party can recover compensation for medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, lost wages, and the pain and suffering experienced by the child as a result of the injury.
Although the safety of a toy depends largely on its design and how it was manufactured, there are some steps that parents can take to help protect their children from sustaining injuries, including:
- Reading all warnings and instructions on the packaging prior to use;
- Avoiding purchasing toys that have sharp points or projectiles;
- Only purchasing toys that are appropriate for a child’s ability and age group;
- Ensuring that toys made for older children are kept out of reach of younger siblings;
- Buying toys that will withstand an impact and won’t break into shards;
- Looking for an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label, which means that the product meets national safety standards;
- Inspecting toys prior to their use;
- Choosing electronic toys that have child proof battery compartments;
- Explaining to a child the proper way to use the toy;
- Fixing or discarding broken toys;
- Supervising children while playing;
- Refraining from purchasing toys that contain high-powered magnets, which if swallowed, can cause serious internal injuries;
- Using a small parts test device to determine whether a toy is too small for a young child;
- Making sure that children wear a helmet when using ride-on toys, such as scooters;
- Checking that toys with sticks or handles, such as swords and pogo sticks, have rounded edges or handles; and
- Avoiding purchasing toys that have a laser or bright light.
While taking these precautions does not guarantee that a child will not be injured by a dangerous toy, they can significantly decrease a child’s chances of suffering an injury.
How an Experienced Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Consumers all over the world put their trust in toy companies to design and produce fun, but safe toys that will not pose a risk of danger to children. Unfortunately, companies do not always use the safest methods or products for manufacturing toys, which can have devastating consequences. Negligent toy manufacturers can and should be held responsible for the injuries that occur as a result of their actions, so if you live in or near Charlotte and your child was injured by a defective toy, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by submitting a contact form and we will help you schedule a free consultation with a skilled and dedicated Charlotte, NC personal injury attorney.