Baby products are not always as safe as parents rightfully expect them to be and sometimes this leads to tragedy. Many babies are seriously injured every year, and some even lose their lives, due to the failure of products to work as expected. In other instances companies fail to warn of inherent product dangers. Everything from strollers to baby carriers to high chairs could potentially put a baby at risk if the product isn't designed or manufactured according to acceptable safety standards or expectations. If a baby is harmed, it would help parents to know how the law protects their rights, and speaking to a qualified attorney is an excellent first step.
Under product liability laws, manufacturers of all products — including baby gear — may be held accountable if an injury occurs when a product causes harm while it is being used as intended. Unlike with other kinds of injury cases, proof of negligence isn't necessarily a critical component in product liability claims when they are made on the basis of strict liability. The key thing parents need to do in order to show a product manufacturer should be held accountable for an infant's injuries is to show the baby gear had a defect that led to the child injury.
Baby Products are Contributing to Infant Injuries
More than 66,000 children under age 3 are hurt in the U.S. each year due to an accident involving a baby product. A child suffers injury once every eight minutes, often simply because products don't work as intended.
Scientific American reported on recent research into what types of products were causing the biggest risk to babies aged 3 and under. The researchers reviewed injuries from 1999 to 2011 and discovered:
- Baby carriers caused about 20 percent of injuries.
- Crib and bedding issues caused around 19 percent of injuries. This category of injury might include accidents resulting from problems with cribs, mattresses and bedding.
- Strollers caused around 17 percent of injuries.
- Exercisers caused around 16 percent of injuries to babies. Products like jumpers and walkers were included in this category as well. Walkers had long been a big risk for children, with their dangers becoming more apparent in the early 1990s. Due to heightened awareness of these risks, the rate of injuries attributable to walkers actually declined substantially during the earlier portion of this research.
Although injuries declined early on in the study period, the number of injury reports increased substantially in the last four years of the research. In that time frame, the increase in the number of injuries occurring was close to 24 percent.
Parents need to be aware of the big risk in injuries to infants linked to baby products. While some of the injuries are caused by product defects, others are caused by potential misuse of the product. It should be noted that while defendants in product liability lawsuits may raise the possibility of product misuse as a defense, it's not one that is absolute. Plaintiffs can counter that the particular misuse of the product was foreseeable, and the designer/manufacturer/distributor had a duty of care to prevent or warn of possible hazards associated with that misuse.