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Toddler swing recall points to product liability issues

People generally trust products made for babies to be safe—when they aren't, responsible companies do what they can to limit the damage as soon as they become aware of the problem.

For example, Little Tikes has issued a recall on roughly 540,000 pink "2-in-1 Snug'n Secure" toddler swings because there have been 140 reports of the swing breaking. At least 39 children have been injured as a result, two with broken arms.

While 140 broken swings out of 540,000 doesn't seem like a lot, it's essentially 140 more than should happen under normal use and a sign that more injuries could easily happen if the product isn't quickly removed from the market.

Even though a company does the right thing and issues a recall, however, that doesn't necessarily mean that the company is off the hook for any and all liability. Product liability laws still allow victim of defectively products to seek compensation for their injuries.

In a case like this, it's hard to determine early on if the problem is a design defect or a manufacturing defect.

A design defect is one that's an inherent flaw in the product, making it unreasonably dangerous to use even if the consumer uses it exactly as directed. Plaintiffs have the burden of showing that there was an alternative possible design that would have been safer to use, while still keeping the product cost-effective to produce and practical to use.

A manufacturing defect occurs when the design is safe but something goes wrong during the assembly process. The fact that the recall is specifically targeting swings with certain date stamps indicates it might be a manufacturing defect.

Product liability cases can also quickly become complex because they can end up involving the designer and the manufacturer (if they aren't the same company), as well as anyone else in the chain of distribution, including assemblers, suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. One of the difficulties of any product liability case is determining exactly who should share the responsibility for injuries caused by a defective product.

If you've been injured due to a defective product, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the possibility of a case.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Little Tikes Recalls Toddler Swings Due to Fall Hazard," Feb. 23, 2017

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