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December Reminds Us to Choose Safe Holiday Gifts

As the holidays draw near, our Illinois personal injury lawyers want to ensure that the festivities are as safe as possible.

World Against Toys Causing Harm, or W.A.T.C.H. is a consumer public interest group that holds an annual conference, exposing the potential dangers of children’s toys; W.A.T.C.H.’s efforts have inspired many toy- and product-design changes.

This year, W.A.T.C.H. released it’s annual list of the “10 Worst Toys,’ each of which has the potential to cause harm or death to children. W.A.T.C.H. has produced this type of list annually since 1973, and many children’s lives have been saved as a result. A report published by MSNBC expounds upon the list, explaining each of the possible dangers posed by the toys. The list included toys that had potential risks for causing choking, electrocution, flesh wounds, and even death.

When corporations manufacture products that are marketed to consumers, those companies are responsibility for ensuring that the merchandise meets all safety requirements; companies are expected to test their products before distributing them to the public, and when those products are unsafe and cause harm to customers, the corporation may be held legally responsible for the injuries caused. These situations may give rise to Illinois products liability lawsuits.

Following are a few of the products that have been found to be the most dangerous to children. The remainder of the list may be found at W.A.T.C.H.’s website
• Action figures, both from Power Rangers- and Godzilla-themed sets may have dagger-like attachments that may potentially cause serious skin punctures. Similarly, on a “Sword Fighting Jack Sparrow” figurine, Johnny Depp’s lookalike is armed with a 4-inch rigid plastic sword.

• Trampolines, such as the “Fold & Go Trampoline” often make dangerous gifts, especially for young children. Even when they come with warnings that state that they should only be used for ‘controlled bouncing,’ James Swartz, a director of W.A.T.C.H. says that, in the real world it’s not reasonable to expect a child to use it in this manner.

• Some German wooden toys pose a risk of strangulation to infants; a wooden duck marketed for babies had a pull-cord of 33 inches, which is far over the toy industry’s safety standard limit of 12-inch-or-shorter strings on cribs and playpen toys.

• The “Z-Curve Bow” which is a bow-and-arrow-set marketed to children over the age of eight is nothing short of a weapon. A warning label attached to the toy instructs that the bow should not be pulled back at more than half strength, and that “anyone at close distance to the target should be alerted before firing.”

The Toy Industry Association reports that lists like the one published by W.A.T.C.H. “needlessly frighten parents,” but the Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that in 2009 alone, approximately 250,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms – and that number is on the rise.

Illinois products liability law is an area of Chicago personal injury law that helps people recover after injuries caused by dangerous and defective products. Any recall is too late in the process if toys have caused injury to children.

Nevertheless, there are many safe alternatives to these dangerous toys on the market. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys wish you safe and happy holidays!

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