Whatever holidays you celebrate, we hope the current season is bringing great joy, the presence of loved ones, and many delicious meals. Children seem to believe there is no greater joy than unwrapping a present with the mix of anticipation, the tearing action as the paper rips, and then the moment when the spot the much-desired prize. To a child, this is pure bliss. A few decades later, however, the true meaning of happiness emerges as the very same scene is viewed from a parent’s eyes. There is truly no greater pleasure than watching a child’s face light up with surprise and joy.
We hope all the children in your lives were thrilled by the presents that come with Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and other late-in-the-year celebrations. These presents should be the source of smiles and many hours of joy, ideally bringing the family together for an added bit of enjoyment. While we do not wish to set a gray cloud on such happy times, we do want to remind parents to always exercise caution. As San Francisco products liability lawyers, we know that children’s products (toys, foods, cribs, clothing, etc) are a common culprit in product-related injuries. When a client approaches us after a child has been harmed in a product-related injury in Northern California, we can help ensure the companies that made and marketed the item are held responsible for their failures.
One danger that makes the news every few months is lead in toys. Lead can be found in either plastic or paint and children are especially vulnerable because their natural tendency is to put objects, and their fingers, in their mouths. Additionally, the developing brain makes children under six particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of lead exposure. There are standards that companies must follow to limit lead, especially in items intended for kids, but it can still be lurking. Older toys and imported items, including those sold at discount “dollar stores,” are particularly dangerous. Lead poisoning often has no immediate symptoms, but over time it can impact a developing brain as well as the nervous system, red blood cells, and heart. Thankfully, heavy enforcement and education has resulted in improvements and the Center for Disease Control reports a significant drop in the percentage of tested children who had elevated lead levels between 1997 and 2008 from 7.61% to 0.83%. California has many state-specific programs aimed at reducing lead exposure. Testing of children’s lead exposure levels, is often recommended and is required at age one and two for children on public health programs.
Child-centered risks for dangerous products are not, of course, limited to lead. In another frightening case, baby formula is a suspected culprit in an infant death. Walmart has pulled Enfamil powdered baby formula after a newborn in Tennessee died after ingesting the formula. The connection has not been proven, but the product is being removed as a precaution.
We should be able to trust that the products we purchase are safe. This should be particularly true when it comes to products made specifically for children. Consumer awareness and education can be the first line of defense. However, if your child (or you) suffers injury due to an unsafe product in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento or the surrounding regions, it is vital that you seek legal help. The law is harsh and often a strict liability rule applies meaning that companies are automatically liable if a product is proven to be inherently dangerous. While the law is often clear, representation is still important. Bringing suit not only allows you to recover the funds to cover medical bills and other losses but also serves a very important public service by sending a message that we will not tolerate dangerous products in San Francisco and the Northern California region. The lawsuit is not only for you, it is for all the innocent consumers in our region who will benefit from telling companies that unsafe products will not be tolerated. As always, a consultation with our San ancisco unsafe products attorney is free and many cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no fee unless you recover for your harm.