Under the Canada Consumer Safety Act and associated regulations, any toy sold in Canada must satisfy a variety of highly detailed requirements concerning matters as diverse as the flammability of its component materials, the presence of any choking hazards and its packaging. The Ministry of Health has the power to issue mandatory recall orders for toys already in the marketplace which are found to present a safety hazard. For example, in October 2017 Canada recalled 30,000 units of the Bruin Infant Wiggle Ball, when it was found to present a choking hazard.
Despite these government protections, substandard and even dangerous toys, many manufactured in foreign countries with less stringent regulations, can make their way onto store shelves. It is ultimately a parent or guardian’s responsibility to ensure that a child’s plaything is safe.
Here are some things to consider when selecting a new toy:
- It doesn’t take a manufacturing degree to know what a well-made and sturdy toy looks and feels like. Even if your child is driving you mad about getting the latest hot toy, stay away from cheaply made items.
- Be sure the packaging or instructions include the manufacturer’s contact information.
- Read and follow all safety instructions and warnings.
- Choose only age-appropriate toys. Older children’s toys may have small parts or other hazards if used by a younger sibling or playmate. Riding toys can tip or become unstable if used by a child who is too small or too young.
- Don’t buy toys with small parts (including any that are attached but may break off) for a child younger than three. Children tend to continue putting inedible items in their mouths until around that age.
- Inspect toys regularly for missing or loose parts, sharp metal or plastic edges or other dangers. Remove any broken toy and repair or discard it.
- Use a toy bin without a lid. Don’t pass down that heirloom toy chest if it has a heavy lid that could fall on and injure your child.
A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
When, despite his or her parent’s vigilance, a child is seriously injured by a toy, questions of legal liability arise. The most likely basis of culpability is proof that the toy was defectively designed, manufactured or packaged, or that it lacked appropriate warnings or instructions.
Because these so-called “product liability” claims do not require a finding of negligence, every party in the manufacturing and distribution chain may be named as a defendant. To establish a party’s liability, a plaintiff must only show that the product was defective when it left that party’s hands, and that the defect was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
Typically, even when there is evidence of a defect, other theories of liability, including negligence or breach of warranty, will also be asserted. Regardless of the basis of liability, however, it must be shown that the injured child was making an “anticipated use” of the toy, though this is defined somewhat liberally interpreted and is not necessarily limited to the manufacturer or designer’s intended use.
Of course, other parties unrelated to the design, manufacture or sale of the toy itself ‒ school or day care personnel, for example ‒ may also be held liable if their negligence was a cause of the accident.
A knowledgeable and experienced defective product lawyer can help identify potential defendants and assess the strength and value of your case.
British Columbia Defective Product Lawyers
If your child has been seriously injured by an apparently defective toy, you may be entitled to recover money damages. The team of lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have experience handling a wide range of defective consumer product claims. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations. Our team of personal injury lawyers represents clients throughout British Columbia.