Each year, over 3 billion toys and games are sold throughout the United States. Manufacturers annually place approximately six-thousand new toys on the market. Although most are safe, many children are injured by toys that are inherently dangerous and defective. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported in 2006 that an estimated 220,500 children of all ages were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Of these an estimated 165,000 were among children under the age of fifteen. Despite federal and state regulations, as well as product liability lawsuits brought on behalf of those injured, on an annual basis the number of injuries reported from toys has not declined since 2002.
Two important pieces of legislation, the Child Protection Safety Act and the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act place obligations on toy manufacturers to ensure that their products are adequately labeled. Compliant labels must warn consumers of the potential hazards posed by a product. For example, labels must warn consumers of potential choking or poisoning hazards, and indicate on the packaging what age group the toy is most appropriate for. Similarly, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act bans any toy that consists of or contains any hazardous substance (including lead), or that presents a thermal, mechanical or electrical hazard.
Of all of the parts of the body, toy accidents most frequently affect a child’s head. The resultant injuries can include eye injury, blindness, hearing loss, breathing problems, strangulation and poisoning. When selecting a toy, consumers should consider hazards posed by sharp edges or points, batteries, ropes, strings, wires, small pieces, bulbs, lead based paints, heating elements, high volume audio and detachable pieces.
In the event that your child has been injured by a toy, whether new or old, you should consult with an experienced products liability attorney in New York immediately. Claims may be made against the manufacturer, distributor and retailer for injuries caused by a dangerous or defective toy. An experienced products liability attorney is familiar with the legal rights of a child injured by a dangerous or defective toy and the laws that are designed to protect them.