A toy recall takes place when a manufacturer of children’s toys ends retail sales of their product because the toy is dangerous. Among consumer products, toys are particularly subject to recalls due to the heightened risks to children and increased safety standards for protecting them.
Since toy recalls directly affect consumers, toy recalls are usually well publicized across media outlets including newspapers, local news stations and social media. There are websites devoted to infant paraphernalia which post lists of baby and child products, including toys, that have been recalled.
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an agency that makes and enforces laws and regulations regarding the safety of products sold to the public in the U.S., also has lists of products that have been recalled, including toys and other products targeted for use by or with infants and young children.
It also provides consumers with directions as to what to do in the event there is a recall. The agency has a website. The CPSC reports that about 217,000 children are treated for injuries related to toys in hospital emergency rooms every year.
Toy product recalls usually result in the product being pulled from store shelves and other retail outlets, e.g. retail websites, to prevent future sales. Consumers who have purchased the recalled toy may be able to obtain a refund or an exchange. Once a product has been recalled, it then becomes illegal for retailers to continue to sell the product.
What are Some Common Types of Toy Recalls?
A toy recall may occur for various reasons, generally because the toy can cause injury or even death to children.
Some of the features of toys that can cause harm to children and require recall include:
- Toxic chemicals or materials, e.g. many products found to contain lead. Children should not ingest lead, because it can cause mental retardation and behavioral disorders. It can have even more serious health consequences if ingested in large quantities;
- Sharp edges or points;
- Warning label defects;
- Lack of clarity as to the age ranges for which a particular toy is suitable;
- Small parts or detachable parts that create possible choking hazards, such as water absorbing toys or fidget spinners;
- Toys that have the life-like appearance of a dangerous weapon (e.g. realistic gun and knife toys).
Toys can be recalled for a variety of other reasons as well. For example, the toy may be incorrectly labeled or it may come with instructions for its use that are faulty, in which case it may be recalled, because these types of errors can cause an injury as well.
What if I’ve Been Injured by a Dangerous or Defective Toy?
If a person or their child or a child they know has been injured or possibly even killed by a dangerous or defective toy, the person should check to see if the toy has already been recalled. In most cases, a person will at least be able to get a refund of the purchase price of the toy or an exchange for a different product. This may be a satisfactory conclusion if an injury is minimal or if no injury was caused at all.
However, of course, a refund or exchange is not an adequate remedy for injuries that have already occurred and certainly not if there has been a death. Obviously the consequences of significant injury, e.g. the costs of medical care, are far more serious. In these cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer and distributors of the toy on a theory of product liability.
Under product liability laws, an injured person or their parent or guardian can sue a toy manufacturer and companies that participated in its distribution. Generally, one of three possible defects are alleged, a manufacturing defect, a design defect, or a warning label defect.
A person should contact an experienced product liability lawyer to determine which type of defect may have been at play in any particular case. For instance, if the product was poorly designed, the person may have a claim for a design defect lawsuit. If the product was assembled in the wrong way or there was some kind of malfunction in the manufacturing process, it may be a manufacturing defect case.
Generally, an experienced product liability lawyer researches the product and can learn what particular type of defect made it unsafe. The lawyer also determines how to prove the existence of the defect for the purposes of a lawsuit.
A product liability lawsuit can include a claim for negligence, but usually it can include a claim for strict product liability. This means that the injured party does not have to prove that the manufacturer or distributor of the toy was negligent. Rather, the injured party only has to prove that the product was defective and caused injury or death in order to succeed with their case.
Two kinds of compensatory damages can be recovered in a product liability lawsuit, economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the kind that is the easier of the two types to calculate, because economic damages compensate an injured person for the financial losses or property damage that results from a defective product.
Compensation for medical bills and lost income are the most common types of economic damages. Of course, lost income might apply in the case of a toy defect, if their parent had to take time off from work to care for an injured child. Medical bills should include not only the bills for treatment already provided at the time the lawsuit is filed, but also the costs of future treatment. Hospital bills, doctors’ bills, and the costs of prescriptions and physical therapy are all included in economic damages.
The value of non-economic damages can be more difficult to estimate in any given case. An award for pain and suffering is the most common type of non-economic damage. This can involve not only the pain and anguish resulting from the injury but also the long-term negative impact of an injury on the injured person’s quality of life. Damages for pain and suffering may be especially appropriate, if a particular injury resulted in a significant physical impairment to a person, or if it is of a kind that is commonly known to cause pain or difficult treatment, such as burns.
In a strict product liability case, claims for punitive damages are not allowed, but such a claim is possible if the case is based on a negligence theory. Whether or not to seek punitive damages is something a person would want to discuss with their lawyer.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Toy Recall Claim?
Toy recalls are very important procedures that can help prevent or minimize injuries to consumers. If a toy or other product for children that you own has not caused you or your child any harm, but it has been recalled, then you probably do not need the assistance of a lawyer.
But if you or someone close to you has been injured or killed by a dangerous toy, you need to consult an experienced defective products lawyer for help with the process of filing a lawsuit. For one thing, you want to recover damages to compensate you for all of the costs associated with any injury to your child. An experienced attorney can best assess the full cost to you and your family of any harm done and help you frame a claim for non-economic damages.
Your attorney can provide you with the legal advice and guidance that is needed to successfully file your claim in court.