When it comes to toys, this year there’s the good news, and then there’s the bad news. Although our Chicago product liability attorneys are encouraged by some of the strides made in the United States this year in the area of toy safety, the latest research shows that there is still a long way to go.
First, the good news. A new study released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that toy-related deaths in the United States declined last year. In fact, toy-related deaths in 2010 were cut in half from the 2009 rate. Also encouraging, toy-based recalls have again declined. In 2008, there were 172 such recalls. That figure declined to 50 in 2009, and has further declined this year to 44.
Our experienced Chicago product liability lawyers continue to maintain that toy manufacturers and sellers should establish that their products are safe before they place them in the hands of the most innocent of Americans: our children. Still, this steady decline in deaths and recalls is encouraging. While no death caused by a toy meant to bring joy is acceptable, progress is always welcome.
But there is still the bad news. While fatalities have declined, injuries from toys have increased. In fact, the CPSC reports that injuries from toys in the United States increased by a shocking 7.6 percent in the past year. That means that 186,000 young Americans (under the age of 15) visited the emergency-room this year for injuries related to toys.
Nor is this year’s increase an isolated incident. In fact, for the past five years, injuries from toys have steadily increased, with an increase each year. These injuries were of all types, but the most frequently-reported injuries from toys were cuts and lacerations on various parts of the body, contusions, and scrapes or abrasions on a child’s head and face.
While the CPSC at least acknowledges its responsibility to ensure that only safe products reach our children, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, commenting on the results of the study and analysis, attempted to dodge full responsibility by shifting the blame to parents, urging them to “see the risks” in toys and to “use good judgment.”
While parents of course must be cognizant of known or foreseeable dangers, it is the responsibility of the CPSC to ensure that the products themselves are safe. Our Chicago injury attorneys are appalled to see Ms. Tenenbaum attempting to foist off on parents her own job: ensuring that the toys in the U.S. marketplace are safe.
That said, while no parent can protect against a defectively designed or manufactured toy, there are a few things that parents can do to help reduce the risk of a toy-related injury. Most importantly, parents can ensure that the toys they give to their child are appropriate for their child’s age and abilities. One of the most common problems is the presence of magnetic-based toys such as Buckyballs, which are marketed to adults and older children but can be fatal to young children, who find them enticing and often intentionally or inadvertently swallow them. Parents of more than one child must be particularly careful, as small parts from an older child’s toys can be a choking hazard for younger siblings.
Perhaps equally importantly, parents can ensure that their children also wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and pads, when riding bikes, skateboards, skates, or scooters, and such such devices should never be ridden near traffic, or water such as a pool or pond.
For a free consultation with an experienced injury and wrongful death attorney at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.