The unprecedented Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused everyone to shift their priorities toward health and safety. Everyone is now aware of the importance of social distancing and other ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19. This new focus is imperative for saving lives, but it is important to remember safety guidelines that pertain to other interests. There are advocacy groups, such as the World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.), that remind everyone about product safety, which should never be neglected.
W.A.T.C.H. is a non-profit group that has been spreading awareness about dangerous children’s products and toys for more than four decades. Every year before the holiday season, they release their 10 Worst Toys List, which includes their choices for the most dangerous toys people buy for their children. Given the fact that children are spending more time at home during the pandemic, this list is a must-see for parents and caregivers.
What Toys are Deemed the Most Dangerous for 2020?
The group singles out toys with safety hazards, such as fiber-like hairs or small parts that can be ingested or choked on. W.A.T.C.H. also warns about toys that promote violent or aggressive play, which can also lead to injuries. The list includes the following toys:
Calico Critters Nursery Friends: Manufactured by Epoch Co., LTD, this toy is recommended for children who are three years old and older. This toy contains three small toy animals and accessories. It is deemed as a choking hazard as it has many small parts that are appealing to children under the recommended age. Calico Critters Nursery Friends is sold by large retailers, such as Walmart, Kohls, and Amazon.
Get Outside Go! Launch: Manufactured by Toysmith, it is recommended for children who are five years old and older. The packaging specifies that the toy missile is for outdoor use only and should not be aimed at animals or people. However, the child shown on the package has the toy close to his face, and there are no warnings about potential eye or facial injuries.
Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw: Manufactured by Hasbro, this toy is also recommended for children who are five years old and older. This toy can be purchased through Walmart, Amazon, and Kmart. The packaging does warn about not swinging at or hitting people or animals, but these rigid claws can promote violent play. W.A.T.C.H. warns that they have the potential for face and eye injuries.
Gloria Owl by Jellycat Ltd: This plush toy is recommended for children who are 12 months old and older, and it has coarse fabric that is prone to fabric shedding. This presents choking and ingestion hazards if it becomes unattached from the toy.
WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists by Jakks Pacific, Inc.: These two simulated oversized fists go over the hands, and they can be used for wrestling. The label indicates that they are for children who are three years old and older, but there are no warnings about potential impact or blunt force injuries.
Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime by Alex Brands-Scientific Explorer: Recommended for children 10 years old and older, this toy lab creates green slime, and the packaging does include warnings. However, this toy includes chemicals, like zinc sulfide, that can be hazardous when used incorrectly. Adult supervision is required.
The Original Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO by Amax Group: This round boomerang toy has propellers that can cause injuries to users, others nearby, and animals. Even though the warning directs the user to keep hair and loose clothing away from the propeller, the packaging tells the user to catch and pass the toy.
Boom City Racers Starter Pack by Moose Toys LLC: Recommended for children who are four years old and older, this toy includes race cars and a ripcord toy launcher that shoots out the small cars. There are warnings, but the packaging also reads, “RIP, RACE, and EXPLODE!”
My Sweet Love Lots to Love Babies Minis by JC Toys Group, Inc and Walmart Inc: It may look cute, but this little toy doll has even smaller accessories, including a miniature long plastic spoon. There are no warnings on the packaging, and it is recommended for children who are two years old and older.
Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber by Hasbro and Disney: Targeted for children who are four years old and older, this sword-shaped plastic toy has the potential to cause eye and blunt force injuries.
Products Liability Lawsuits
In general, there are three different types of products liability lawsuits:
- Design: This is when there is an inherent problem with the product’s design, so every one of them sold is deemed as unreasonably dangerous for the use they were intended for.
- Manufacturing: A manufacturing defect occurs when a product is being made. Manufacturing or design defects can be reasons for product recalls.
- Marketing: Many of the products on W.A.T.C.H.’s list allegedly have inadequate or unrealistic instructions and warnings, which are potential marketing defects. Manufacturers are supposed to warn users about possible dangers of their products’ use if they are not immediately apparent.
How Do Toy Liability Cases Work?
When someone is injured by a dangerous, recalled and defective toy, they may wish to file a personal injury claim. It usually falls under the products liability umbrella if there are injuries, illnesses, or other harmful side effects directly linked to the product. There are different legal theories that can be used by plaintiffs, and one of the best-known is strict liability. For this, the plaintiff must prove that the product sold was unreasonably dangerous or had inadequate warnings, that the seller planned for the product to reach the consumer without being changed, and that the plaintiff was injured by it.
A products liability claim based on negligence is a bit different. A plaintiff can claim that the defendant had a duty of care and was legally obligated to ensure that the product was not dangerous. Placing that product in the marketplace breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered an injury as a result. Other products liability cases can be based on fraud or breach of warranty.
Strict liability is the most common basis for these cases, and a failure to provide adequate warnings falls under this. It is important to note that the warnings must be clearly visible and easy to read and understand. Even if a warning is conspicuous on the packaging, it should not be open to misinterpretation. If a plaintiff misused the toy in a way that was predictable by the defense, that plaintiff may have a successful case. Risks need to be explained, and consumers have to be adequately warned.
Who is Responsible for Injuries?
Several entities can contribute to a product’s design, production, and distribution. A plaintiff must first identify who might be responsible for the defective product and name them as defendants. It could include a manufacturer, retailer, corporation, wholesaler, or distributor.
In a products liability case, the plaintiff will have to meet a burden of proof to show that the item was defective. This could include evidence of property damage and medical bills, along with witness testimony, expert testimony, and as much information about the product as possible. If a toy caused injuries, it should also be kept as evidence. For help building a case, a victim should hire an experienced lawyer.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Protect Families Against Dangerous Toys
W.A.T.C.H. representatives agree that many toy-related injuries can be prevented and that there needs to be better oversight on the toy industry. Reach out to one of our skilled Philadelphia products liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC if you or your child was injured by a defective toy or product. Call us at 215-569-8488 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.