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Understanding products liability for dangerous children's toys

Consumers buy a wide variety of products every day, and new products continue to be developed and manufactured. Not all products are safe, however, and many do not function as intended. Other products may have a proper design but, due to problems in the manufacturing process, end up defective and dangerous. Among the common products that cause injury to consumers each year are dangerous children's toys.

Products liability is an important legal concept that protects consumers from suffering financial harm, on top of the already suffered physical harm, from their use of a defective or dangerous product. When a consumer or product user suffers an injury caused by a product, the company who manufactured or designed the product could be held legally liable to compensate the injured party with financial damages.

There are many different children's products that get recalled each year due to danger or defect. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the government agency that spearheads recalls, and manufacturers can also "voluntarily" issue their own recalls if they learn of a dangerous defect. Among the products designed for children that are commonly recalled, dangerous children's toys constitute the largest number of recalls. The common risks posed by dangerous toys include falls, choking, strangulation, burns, drowning and poisoning. Many toys made in China also pose the risk of being contaminated or manufactured with lead.

Although product liability lawsuits can compensate a victim for certain losses, the best way to protect against suffering an injury from a children's toy is to be proactive. Parents and children should read and follow all products and warnings, age recommendations, and other safety messages. If a consumer uses a product in a way that was not intended and subsequently suffers harm, the manufacturer could potentially avoid product liability by arguing that the harm was caused by misuse of the product and not by a defect in the product's design or manufacture.

Source: KidsinDanger.org, "Product Hazards--Toys," last accessed Apr. 25, 2015

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