The holiday season is over. We’ve all eaten too much horrible, delicious food, entertained relatives well past their expiration date, listened to Michael Bublé for the first time in a year, and (hopefully) found the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. Lights, trees, menorahs, and other artifacts of the season are soon to come down, if they haven’t already, and most of us are ready to move on.
But not quite yet. We’re still trying on new clothes and playing with toys made for kids of all ages, and many of us may even be planning a trip to the store to return or exchange something (remember to bring your photo ID, because this year retailers are really trying to crack down on return fraud).
And then there are those for whom the hassle of remembering to bring a license would be a luxury. They received something that ended up being defective. If they’re lucky, that just meant that it was broken in some way and didn’t do what they wanted. But if they’re unlucky, it’s quite possible that the defect in the product may have caused harm to them or someone they love. In extreme cases, people have even been killed by product defects.
What do you do if this has happened to you? Get in touch with a defective products attorney as soon as possible and document everything as thoroughly as possible. These kinds of cases can be complicated and contentious, so the more evidence you have and the earlier you can start building a case, the better off you are.
How Do You Know If a Product Is Defective?
Dealing with a defective product can be scary, dangerous, and difficult, but there are ways that you can protect yourself and stay out of this situation. The first and easiest is to head to Recalls.gov and look to see if a product you have is on the list and why. But because a product doesn’t have to be recalled to be dangerous, and because companies sometimes fight back even after a recall is made, it can also be smart to do a Google search for problems with your specific item. You might be shocked to discover that several people have complained or written reviews about something that seems like a serious problem for a product that’s still readily available – this kind of thing happens all the time.
So, what should you look for if you’re worried about a particular product but there’s nothing out there – yet – that speaks to a specific problem with it? Since we’re talking about things received around the holidays, let’s take a look at toys specifically. Many toys will have labels warning you about potential problems, but often these are incomplete because the manufacturers simply don’t account for all of the creative ways that kids can hurt themselves.
Loose parts. If a toy easily comes apart – even if the effect is intentional – be wary. Small parts can be choking hazards, and large parts may end up causing cuts.
Zippered animals. Some stuffed animals come with zippers that allow access to the “stuffing” part of the toy. Presumably, this is so parents can easily refill the animal if the need arises, but it also provides easy access to young fingers, and if your little one gets the stuffing out, it’s going one of two places – on the floor, or in their mouth. If the latter occurs, it’s a choking hazard.
Cords. Lots of toys have strings or cords, and in theory they’ve been designed with strict safety standards mind, but that doesn’t mean they can’t accidentally strangle your child. Keep close watch.
Balloons. Why are balloons dangerous? You guessed it – because kids can choke on them. This is actually an incredibly problematic item, because even older kids can choke to death if a latex balloon gets caught in their throat.
Chemicals. Who puts chemicals in kids’ toys? Lots of manufacturers. Most people know to watch out for lead paint, but toxic chemicals have also been found in things like chalk, toy jewelry, and more.
Electronics. All electronic toys are potentially dangerous because you likely won’t be able to tell if there is a manufacturing or design defect until it is too late and they suffer a burn or the device shocks them.
Anything small. Young children put things in their mouths. It’s a universal truth. So if they receive any gift with small parts that might lodge in their throats – especially parts that look enticing in some way – either keep them away or only let them use the toy in your presence.
Of course, it’s not possible to know about many defects in advance, and the vast majority of products out there are completely safe. The best thing that you can do is to keep an eye on toys – especially new ones – when your child is playing with them, and simply know your son or daughter. If they act oddly every time they interact with a specific toy, something is probably going on and you should talk to a skilled attorney.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.