As a parent, there is already plenty to worry about when it comes to your child’s safety at school, particularly during the back-to-school season.
Kids can be hurt by car crashes on the way to or from school, school bus crashes, violence during school, sports injuries and playground injuries.
However, there’s another source of injury, especially for young children, that you may not have considered: defective school supplies. School supplies can sometimes contain toxins or be hazardous for children to use.
In fact, consumers have even found glass fragments embedded in a popular brand of discount crayons. These crayons have since been recalled and removed from shelves, but the potential for other dangerous school supplies remains.
As a parent, what can you do to protect your child? What are your options if your child is hurt?
Educate yourself on what to watch for in dangerous and defective school supplies. Know what you can do in the event your child sustains an injury from one.
What Florida Parents Should Know about School Supplies
The primary hazard for school supplies is contamination of heavy metals or other toxins. This is more likely to affect younger children, who may eat the product.
However, some toxins can be ingested by simply using them.
Every year, watchdog organizations identify new hazards in school supplies currently on the market. For example, in 2018, discount crayons were found to contain asbestos, and dry erase markers with scented ink were found to contain benzene, which can cause liver damage.
To get the most current information on dangerous school supplies, conduct an Internet search and check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall list.
Florida Product Liability Lawsuits
In the event your child suffers an injury from a dangerous school supply or other defective product, you may be left juggling costly medical bills and other expenses such as missed work to care for your sick or injured child.
In many cases, your only way to recoup financial damages from such an injury is a Florida product liability lawsuit. Here’s how product liability law works in Florida, and what it takes to win this kind of lawsuit.
Three Types of Defective Product Lawsuits
In Florida, there are three types of defective product lawsuits: defective design, manufacturing defect, and marketing (or “fail to warn”) defect.
- Defective design: The product was manufactured correctly, but the manufacturer’s design is unreasonably dangerous. A product is considered unreasonably dangerous if it fails to perform as safely as a reasonable consumer would expect when using the product in its intended manner.
- Manufacturing defect: The product was designed to be safe, but something went wrong during the manufacturing process, such that the product that left the manufacturing facility was not in accordance with its original design. This includes contaminated products, such as the crayons we discussed above.
- Marketing defect: The product’s distributor failed to include adequate warnings and instructions for use for a product that was otherwise properly designed or manufactured.
Product Liability Claims Process
If your child was injured by a defective product, you can seek damages within four years from the date of the injury. If a wrongful death occurred, this “statute of limitations” is shortened to two years.
However, we suggest acting as soon as possible if your child is injured by a defective product. Waiting several years to seek damages could bring the severity of the injuries into question.
Moreover, a successful product liability lawsuit generally requires an in-depth investigation which becomes much more difficult to adequately perform as time passes.
What it Takes to Win a Product Liability Lawsuit
To win a product liability lawsuit, you must be able to demonstrate the following:
- Your child suffered an actual injury or monetary loss as a result of using the defective product.
- The product had a design, manufacturing or marketing defect
- The defect directly caused the child’s injury
- Your child was using the product as intended, or in a way that the manufacturer could expect a reasonable consumer to use it.*
*For products marketed to children, these standards for use become more expansive, as children are likely to do things like put the product in their mouths.
Your defective product lawsuit, too, will likely require an in-depth investigation and expert witnesses. You will need the help of a personal injury attorney, who knows the ins and outs of a product liability suit and can help gather the evidence necessary to win.
Your first priority as your child is heading back to school, is to ensure their safety…including the selection of safe school supplies. However, sometimes these efforts aren’t enough, and children can still be injured.
When incidents occur, you must know your legal rights, and consider seeking damages to help your family recover as quickly and as best as you can.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.