When we’re shopping for our kids, we often face a certain paradox: a gift’s “fun factor” increases in equal measure to its risk. Like Ralphie’s “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot, range model air rifle” from A Christmas Story, the most coveted gifts aren’t always the safest — you’ll remember that he did nearly shoot his eye out. Of course, we’re pretty good at judging the danger of that kind of toy. The trick is when the danger isn’t readily apparent.
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For example, take the case of the popular hoverboards that turned out to be prone to spontaneous combustion. How can you keep your kids safe?
Finding out about Toy Recalls
In some cases — like those pesky hoverboards — consumers learn about the risks and defects of certain products through the news. However, toy recalls don’t always make headlines. That means consumers are often left to their own devices to figure out if a product has been recalled. We have to rely on government agencies such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the primary government agency responsible for alerting the public about unsafe, hazardous or defective products and recalling unsafe products, to update us on the safety of the products we bring into our homes. The government maintains a list of recalled products online.
How does the CPSC get its safety information? In general, it comes from reports by consumers and the makers of the products themselves. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers operate under a legal “duty to warn” and must notify CPSC when they become aware of a product defect. Once they’ve received a few reports, the CPSC will investigate the potential risk presented by the toy or other product. Unfortunately, this means that recalls and warnings often don’t happen until someone has already been injured.
The Toy Recall Process
If the CPSC determines that a product presents a significant risk, it will work with the manufacturers and retailers to issue a recall order. The manufacturers and retailers must then make sure that the product is taken off the shelves. They also have to issue a public notice indicating the affected model number, the product name, an image of the product, and a description of the specific defect or hazard. The notice provides contact information and instructions on how and where to return the product or how to remedy the defect, such as requesting a repair kit.
If a product has been recalled, you have the right to have the danger remedied for free. That may involve returning the product and getting your money back, or it might involve having the product repaired or altered to make it safe. For example, Amazon offered full refunds for anyone who purchased one of the combustible hoverboards.
Toy recalls can be frustrating (especially for your kids) but they’re an important way to keep your children safe. When you receive notifications about toy recalls, you should immediately take the toy in question away from your children. Follow the instructions on the recall notice for returning or repairing the toy.
Toy Safety Law
Ideally, all of the products sold for children would be perfectly safe. There are, in fact, extensive laws in place governing the safety of toys marketed to children. These laws regulate everything from the materials that can be used in toys to the warning labels that have to be displayed on the packaging. For example, toys with small pieces must be labeled as choking hazards that are dangerous for children under a certain age, according to the Child Safety Protection Act § 101. In addition, many toys are subject to third-party testing for safety before they can be sold in the U.S.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to foresee every potential hazard. Sometimes, manufacturers make mistakes or cut corners and sell dangerous products. When that happens, the product is recalled.
What if my child has been injured by a defective toy?
Recalls only happen because someone has already gotten hurt or because someone discovered that the toy could cause injury. If your child was injured before the toy recall or before you received notice of the recall, you may be entitled to compensation for your child’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and ongoing expenses associated with the injury.
An expert tip from Doug Mann
Lawsuits over injuries caused by a product are called “products liability” cases. Products liability cases fall into three broad categories: design defects (product fails due to bad design), manufacturing defects (product is designed properly but made poorly), and warning defects (product fails to warn of a danger to users). In these cases, you must prove that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer and that the defect caused the injury.
Contact our Toy Recall Lawyers Today
It’s always heartbreaking when a child is injured, especially when the injury comes from a gift that your kid was excited about. Unfortunately, defective and dangerous products are a reality and the best thing we can do is keep abreast of the latest news on toy recalls.
If your child has been injured, contact the experienced attorneys at Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz today for a free case evaluation and consultation to learn about your legal rights and options. An injury can land you with expensive medical bills and you shouldn’t have to bear the costs of a manufacturer’s errors.