Many products which consumers think are safe can cause serious harm. Among them are infant head-shaping pillows, which are marketed as medically related products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a warning about these pillows, saying they are not approved by the administration and may pose safety risks to babies.
“The FDA is not aware of any demonstrated benefit with the use of infant head shaping pillows for any medical purpose,” the FDA said in a statement. “The use of head shaping pillows can create an unsafe sleep environment for infants and may contribute to the risk of suffocation and death.” Healthline reports that “According to the FDA, head-shaping pillows can increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and suffocation and death and should not be used at all.” The agency recommends that parents who own these pillows throw them out instead of donating them to consignment shops, charitable organizations, or friends and family members.
Why do parents use head-shaping pillows on infants?
Most parents who purchase head-shaping pillows do so because of “flat head syndrome,” a condition where a baby’s skull flattens slightly as a result of sleeping on one’s back.
The FDA notes that “flat head syndrome” usually goes away without treatment, and recommends that parents talk to their doctors about their options if their child does have a flattened skull, especially because it could indicate a much more serious medical condition.
Common products that can causes serious injuries to children
Infant head-shaping pillows are merely one example of dangerous products that can have severe, if not fatal, consequences. Other products designed for children and infants that can lead to devastating injuries include
- Sleeper rockers/ inclined sleepers
- Crib bumpers
- Toys with small, removable pieces
- Products made overseas with lead paint
- Children’s furniture (tip-over accidents)
- Defective bike helmets
For a product to be considered defective, it must have a design or manufacturing flaw, or a marketing “defect” – aka, a failure to warn of potential risks. Let’s use inclined sleepers as an example. These devices are inherently dangerous for a sleeping infant, because the baby could suffocate. The same is true of lounge pillows; a baby who can roll over is at risk of suffocation. In such a case, one could argue there is a flaw in the actual design of the product.
But what about a swing set? If your child is on a swing and he or she falls off, that does not necessarily mean the swing is defective or unsafe. (It could, potentially, if there is a flaw in the design or manufacturing of the seat or the structure which holds it up.) Swings, therefore, have an inherent risk to them as well, and that risk should be communicated in the instruction manual and/or on the box for consumers who purchase them.
These examples are both different from a product with a manufacturing flaw. This is a defect that’s created in the process of the making of the product. Say you purchase a crib. At some point in the manufacturing process, a piece of machinery broke which caused a weakness in bars which lift up and down. Your child grabs onto those bars one day, a piece snaps off, and his or her fingers get caught and crushed.
There are many ways that products can be unsafe. If your child (or you) suffers an injury because of it, you could file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer, or other liable parties.
Statute of limitations in product liability cases in Alabama
A product liability case is a type of personal injury claim, so Alabama’s personal injury statute of limitations applies. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases typically have two years from the date of the accident to file legal claims, though the statute may be “tolled” when the victim is a minor, and there are shorter time limits for actions against sellers.
In other words, the best possible thing you can do to protect yourself and your child is to contact a Huntsville product liability lawyer as soon as possible after the incident leading to injury occurred, so that you are not time barred from seeking damages.
Damages in product liability claims
Common economic damages in product liability claims, or damages related to monetary losses, usually include lost wages, medical treatments, and other tangible losses. Non-economic damages relating to the emotional toll of the accident can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of life enjoyment, and mental anguish. Punitive damages are rare in product liability claims, as they are designed to punish defendants who engage in reckless or intentional harm. However, they can apply if the plaintiff’s attorney proves malice, fraud, wantonness, or oppression from the defendant. The lawyer must furnish “clear and convincing evidence” to win punitive damages for their client.
Common defenses in product liability claims
Common defenses in product liability claims include modification and misuse. The defendant (the company, the manufacturer, or any other liable party) will try to claim that you modified the product in some way that made it dangerous or did not follow the instructions. A defendant might also argue that the plaintiff knew the product was dangerous but used it anyway. Because the plaintiff was aware of the risks, the defendant argues that they are not liable. It is therefore essential to work with an experienced Huntsville personal injury attorney who is well-versed in Alabama’s laws and knows how to build your case for damages.
We know you’ll do anything to keep your children safe. Let our Huntsville injury attorneys help. Contact Martin & Helms today to discuss your case and learn what your options are. This firm has offices in Huntsville and Decatur, AL, and provides the Tennessee Valley with unparalleled representation. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation today.