Suffocation and Strangulation Risks for Children & Related Products Liability Lawsuits
While choking involves the internal obstruction of the airway, such as when a child swallows a small object, suffocation and strangulation involve external harm to the airway. Suffocation occurs when an object blocks the nose and mouth, obstructing the airway. Strangulation occurs when an object causes external compression of the airway. Like choking, suffocation and strangulation are among the most common causes of injuries and death in small children. Even if a child survives an incident of suffocation or strangulation, they may suffer brain damage that leads to permanent disabilities.
Causes of Suffocation and Strangulation
Some of the main causes of suffocation involve the crib used by a child. For example, a baby might be suffocated if they fall into the space between the mattress and the crib slats, which should not be too large. Toys also may pose suffocation risks if they are large enough to cover the airway, especially if a small child would not be able to move a toy away from their face.
Meanwhile, strangulation might occur whenever cords or strings are attached to an object. A cord or string could get wrapped around the neck of a child, who might not understand how to remove it. Sometimes children’s clothing poses a strangulation risk, but toys, pacifiers, bibs, and window blinds or drapes also may cause harm, among other products.
Stay Alert to Recalls
When a manufacturer of a child product finds that it poses a risk of suffocation or strangulation, it should issue a recall. Parents should promptly stop using any affected products. Infant and toddler durable products must come with an option to register the product so that parents can be notified of a recall directly.
Products Liability Claims Based on Suffocation or Strangulation
Some incidents of suffocation or strangulation result from mistakes by parents, such as giving their child a toy inappropriate for their age. However, a manufacturer of a faulty children’s product may bear responsibility in other situations. This may be true even if the manufacturer did not issue a recall. If a product contained a defect in its design or manufacturing, or if the manufacturer provided inadequate instructions or warnings, parents may have a claim for compensation. Strict liability usually applies in these cases, which means that the manufacturer may be held liable regardless of how much care it used in designing or making the product, or in providing warnings. This can make it easier for a plaintiff to prove their case.
Suffocation or strangulation may result in substantial medical bills, and a child may suffer long-term harm. Parents can recover all the costs resulting from an incident of suffocation or strangulation caused by a defective product, including reasonably likely future costs. They also can recover compensation for the physical and emotional harm that the child experienced, such as their pain and suffering.
Keep the Defective Item
A dangerous product that caused an injury may become critical evidence in a lawsuit against a manufacturer or another entity in the chain of distribution. Parents should preserve the product, together with any related documentation, storing it in a place where it cannot cause further harm.
In the tragic event that a child dies from an incident of suffocation or strangulation, their parents may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. State laws governing who may file these claims vary, and they usually must be brought within a specific time period, known as the statute of limitations. If parents do not meet this deadline, they will not be able to pursue their case. Thus, while they will need time to grieve for the loss of a child, they should not delay too long in exploring their legal options if they suspect that a faulty product may have caused their child’s death.