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Who is Responsible for a Defective Toy?

Posted in Consumer Safety on November 15, 2022

Defective toys pose a dangerous risk to children. In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, parents may need to research toys beyond the recall list. Despite the hazards, some unsafe toys may still make it to toy shelves.

How Common Are Defects Found in Toys?

Consumers expect the toys they purchase to be trustworthy. While there are federal safety standards to protect children from unreasonable defects, sometimes the law fails to prevent dangerous toys from the market. 

According to the latest data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding toy-related injuries and deaths in the last reporting year:

  • Approximately 198,000 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms
  • 73% of injuries were suffered by children younger than 12 years of age
  • 40% of injured children were under 4 years of age

Assessing toy-related deaths over the last 3 years has been challenging for the CPSC. They have discovered a delay in death certificate reporting, showing only 42% of the data is complete. The best estimates so far show 9 toy-related deaths. 

The data also reflects the type of toys that caused the most danger. For example:

  • Building sets caused the most injuries to children 4 years of age and younger
  • Nonmotorized scooters attributed to the most injuries for those under 14 years
  • 42% of all injuries were cuts and severe bruising to the head and face 

While the data is still being collected, based on previous years, children under 5 years of age suffer a disproportionate number of injuries and deaths associated with choking and asphyxiation. Choking is the 4th leading cause of unintentional death in the nation. Latex balloons, marbles, and toys with small parts that can easily break off pose the most risk. 

What Kinds of Defects Affect Toys?

There are three different types of defects that can affect toys. Toys can be manufactured, or created, in such a way that makes them dangerous. In other cases, the toy’s design could be inherently hazardous. Toy manufacturers and designers also have an obligation to put adequate warning labels on items. 

Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects occur when there is an error during the making of the toy. For instance, recently the Gel Blaster Surge Model 1.0, a toy gun, was recalled recently due to a fire hazard. Reports show the toy gun begins to smoke or catch fire near the handle where the battery is located.

Design Defects

Design defects occur when the fundamental structure of the toy is hazardous. A recent recall for a popular Amazon toy reportedly has a design defect where a part easily breaks or comes loose, creating a choking hazard. 

Failure To Warn Defect

A failure to warn defect occurs when a toy does not come with adequate instructions for safe use or lacks warnings for reasonably anticipated dangers from misuse. Failure to warn can be complex in toys. While children lack the cognitive ability to reasonably assess dangers posed by toy defects, adults are capable. 

The plush toy, “Forky” was recalled when the eyes detached after children began putting the item in their mouths. While its intended use was not to be used as a young child’s chew toy, it lacked adequate warnings that the eyes could detach and pose a choking hazard. 

Who Can be Held Responsible for a Defective Toy?

Defective toys cause serious injuries to children every year. Holding accountable parties responsible for a defective toy may help prevent future injuries. 


Most defects can be traced back to manufacturers. Manufacturers are directly responsible for the creation of a toy. A manufacturing company oversees everything from the quality of materials used to ensuring all parts are properly secured and attached. 


There is a distribution chain between the toy designers and the consumer. Once a toy is designed, it is sent to a manufacturer for creation. Following that, a toy may be sold directly to consumers or indirectly through wholesalers and retailers. These suppliers may be held responsible for a defective toy if they fail to exercise their duty of care to consumers. 


Retailers fall at the end of the distribution line. They have a duty to provide safe products to consumers and are required to perform due diligence before placing a toy on the shelves. For example, if a retailer knowingly sells a toy with potential hazards, they may be found negligent. 


With the rise of celebrity and influencer endorsements, some advertisers may be held responsible for a defective toy. If a person accepts payment to advertise a particular toy, they can share the blame for injuries caused by a defect. 

Why Are Defective Toys Still on the Market?

Defective Toy Law

Despite safety measures, some defective toys remain on the market longer than they should. There are various reasons for recall delays. Parents may need to do ample research to ensure the toys they purchase are safe. 

The Level of Danger May Not Be Strong Enough

Some companies may weigh the potential costs of a recall against the potential dangers associated with the defect. A company may take time researching the level of danger, leaving hazardous toys on the shelves for several months before issuing a voluntary recall. 

While death typically is severe enough to warrant an immediate recall, lesser health risks may not be enough to risk losing profits. In addition, toys have a short life cycle. A toy company may worry that issuing an early recall could be reflective of problems within the corporation. 

Toy Designers and Manufacturers May Deflect Responsibility 

When a toy causes injuries, toy companies will investigate the cause. Most toy companies design their own products. However, toy companies typically outsource the making of the product to manufacturing companies. A hazardous toy may remain on the market for months while a toy company determines whether the danger came from the manufacturer or their design.

The Toy Industry is Profitable

The toy industry is a highly profitable and competitive market. Toy companies are like any other business, balancing responsibility to shareholders and consumers. If a defective toy is not determined to pose a great enough risk to the public, it may not be recalled.

Defective Toy Recalls Hurt Reputations

Defective toy recalls hurt the reputation of toy companies. Most of the industry is made up of large, multi-million-dollar companies. Recalls lead to high costs and are generally seen as a last result for toy companies. 

A study compared company costs with the length of time it took to issue a recall. They found that if a company had a history of product recalls, they took longer to issue a recall for defective toys that posed an even greater health hazard. The investigation surmised that the costs were much higher when toys posed a larger threat of danger to the public, encouraging toy companies to act with greater care before issuing a recall. 

Our team of defective product attorneys at the Law Office of John W. Redmann is standing by to discuss the legal details of a pending personal injury lawsuit against the company responsible for a defective toy. Contact the firm today at (504) 500-5000 or at our website to schedule an appointment.