The consumer advocacy group World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH) has released its annual list of the top 10 most dangerous toys. According to the Massachusetts-based organization, these toys contain hidden hazards that put children at risk of injury or death. Parents and caregivers are therefore advised to avoid these and similar toys when shopping this holiday season.
Parents want to keep their children safe. For those children who are injured by a dangerous toy, an experienced personal injury lawyer can advocate for the family and fight to obtain the compensation they deserve.
Toys on the WATCH List for 2020
Calico Critters Nursery Friends. This set of miniature flocked animals features a rabbit, a chipmunk, and a cat, each with its own accessory of a hat, a pacifier, and a nursery school bag. The toy set is labeled as appropriate for children three years of age and older, owing to its small parts. However, WATCH cautions that this type of toy is enticing for oral-age children and regardless of its label, it poses a choking hazard even for children over three years of age.
Missile Launcher. Labeled as appropriate for children five years and older, this slingshot style launcher poses several safety risks. Although the label warns against small parts that present a choking hazard and advises children to use it outdoors only as well as to avoid aiming it at people or animals, the label makes no mention of the potential for eye or face injuries. As WATCH notes, using the launcher requires a child to hold it close to his or her face, as depicted in the picture on the packaging.
Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw. Children can imitate the hero from the movie Black Panther with this plastic claw that fits on their hand. The battery-activated toy makes a slashing sound and lights up with surface contact. The packaging does display a caution against swinging at people or animals and using the toy away from breakable objects but makes no mention of the potential for eye and facial injuries.
Gloria Owl. This long-haired plush owl is recommended for children 12 months and older. However, as noted on an attached tag, the fibrous hair may not be adequately attached and is therefore prone to shedding. Once separated from the toy, this hair can lead to ingestion or aspiration injuries.
WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists. Designed to allow children to emulate professional wrestlers, these fabric oversized fists are recommended for youngsters ages three years and older. Although the label says that adult supervision is suggested, there are no warnings regarding the potential for blunt force or impact injuries.
Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime. This slime laboratory kit is recommended for children aged 10 years and older. It allows children to create different types of slime, including color changing, glow-in-the-dark, and magnetic slime. The box includes various warnings against potentially harmful chemicals such as zinc sulfide, which may cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.
The Original Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO. The interactive stunt drone responds to the user’s wrist movements, allowing them to perform stunts and tricks without a remote control; like a boomerang, the toy returns to its starting point after being thrown. It is suggested for children ages 14 years and up and contains a warning about choking hazards because of small parts. However, as noted by WATCH, it does not warn against the potential for cutting and propeller-related injuries.
Boom City Racers Starter Pack. With lights and fireworks sound effects, this toy is designed to emulate a rocket and features cars that shoot out of a launcher when the user pulls a rip cord. The car comes apart when it collides with another toy car or a hard surface but can be reassembled. Its warning label cautions against playing the sounds close to a child’s ear, aiming at the eyes or face, and launching at people or animals, as this can lead to eye and face injuries.
My Sweet Love Lots to Love Babies Minis. This miniature baby doll set comes with plastic cup, bottle, plate, and spoon accessories and is recommended for children two years and older. Although there are no warnings on the box, WATCH cautions that the plastic spoon, measuring almost three inches long, has the potential to occlude a child’s airway.
Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber. Featuring electronic light and sound effects, this black plastic version of a lightsaber is marketed to children four years and older. The toy contains a warning to not swing, poke, or jab at people or animals. However, WATCH notes that the rigid plastic poses a risk for facial and other impact injuries.
Poorly Designed or Manufactured Toys Put Children at Risk
Every three minutes, a child is treated for toy-related injuries in a U.S. emergency room, according to WATCH. As a result of poor design and inadequate testing, children suffer approximately 240,000 toy-related injuries each year. This year, the risk may be even higher as parents are looking for new ways to entertain their children who are spending more time at home because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to WATCH, e-commerce sales are expected to have an unprecedented surge this holiday season; in October 2020, there was an 85 percent spike in online toy sales compared with the same time last year.
Online shoppers are urged to be particularly cautious, as they are not able to physically examine toys for hidden hazards. Despite advancements in the toy industry, many of the same dangers are present in new toys, such as these hazards:
- Small parts
- Toxic chemicals
- Rigid materials
- Inadequate warnings and caution labels
Parents and caregivers are advised to avoid purchasing toys that pose safety risks to children and to examine the toys they already have for hidden hazards. WATCH warns that even though toys are supposed to meet rigorous safety tests and standards, many dangerous toys still reach store shelves and e-commerce sites.
Common Toy-Related Injuries
The toy industry makes an estimated $70 billion in worldwide sales and spends approximately $1 billion in advertising annually. Unfortunately, safety is not always placed above profit and thousands of children are disabled and disfigured as a result of unsafe toys. Common types of toy-related injuries include the following:
- Death, often the result of asphyxiation
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were 17 toy-related deaths among children younger than 15 years of age in 2018. Those deaths were caused by nonmotorized scooters and riding toys, rubber balls, stuffed toys and doll accessories, water toys, balloons, plastic toy food, water guns, and toy dart guns.
Compensation for Toy-Related Injuries and Deaths
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are responsible for ensuring the safety of products sold on the market, including toys. When those products are defective or unreasonably dangerous, manufacturers or sellers may be liable for any injuries that occur as a result. There are three types of defects that may give rise to a personal injury product liability lawsuit:
- Design. This type of product is unsafe from the onset; the design is inherently unsafe even before its manufacture. It does not perform as a reasonable person would expect and is therefore defective in its design.
- Manufacturing. Although safe in its design, this product becomes defective during its manufacture. In other words, the manufacturing process left the toy in a dangerous condition that was not originally intended.
- Marketing. This type of defect refers to insufficient warnings or instructions. Manufacturers must warn consumers about known dangers that are present when the product is being used as intended or reasonably anticipated.
Those who are injured by defective products may be able to sue the manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, or retailer for compensatory damages. Such damages include compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. In New Jersey, punitive damages, which are designed to punish the wrongdoer, are capped at $350,000. To remain eligible, a lawsuit must be brought within the statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of the injury.
Freehold Personal Injury Lawyers at Ellis Law Seek Compensation for Toy-Related Injuries
If your child was injured by a dangerous or defective toy, contact the Freehold personal injury lawyers at Ellis Law. Our skilled and experienced legal team will fight to hold the responsible parties liable and get you the compensation to which you are entitled. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.