Knowledgeable Chicago Lawyer Answering Questions About Laundry Pod Poisoning
Over the years, manufacturers have looked for ways to make household maintenance and chores as convenient as possible. From washing machines that can tackle larger loads to dryers that finish a load in less than one hour, the job of laundry has gotten easier.
One way manufacturers have certainly improved laundry is the delivery of detergent. No more guessing and measuring. You just pick up a pod for the type of laundry you’re washing, toss it into the washing machine, and you are done.
These packets, known as laundry pods, have become increasingly popular in households. They feature bleach, detergent, whitening agents, fabric softener and color protectants. The packaging melts in the heat, and they are colorful, fun, and extremely easy to use.
The Issue with Pods
Sadly, these pods are popular for another reason: Poisoning. Over the past few years, more households have increased their use of laundry and dish detergent pods. Because they are colorful, toddlers and small children mistake them for candy or toys. As they chew on them, they ingest the harmful contents of the laundry pods, leading to severe poisoning. However, that is not the only risk associated with these pods.
Pod Dangers: The Risks of Convenience
1. Poisoning Due to Laundry Pod Ingestion
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued warnings to parents about laundry pods. It was made after four incidents in a single city occurred from accidental poisoning through chewing on the laundry pods.
After the CDC compiled the data, they found that from May 17 to June 17, 2012, there were over 1,000 laundry detergent exposures reported, and the National Poison Data System reported that 48 percent of their exposures were due to laundry pods.
Most of the children affected by these accidental exposures were under the age of five. The children under the age of five suffered extreme respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.
In 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers also reported that they found 6,216 exposures in that year alone, and almost 5,000 of those children were exposed to the same brand of single-use detergent.
A seven-month-old in Florida died after chewing on one of the pods in August of 2012.
2. Risk of Eye Injuries from Laundry Pods
Johns Hopkins researchers had been studying the effects of laundry pods and exposures, and they had reported an increase in eye injuries associated with single-use laundry pods too.
The researchers indicated that single-use pods account for more than a quarter of the chemical eye burn injuries in young children, and the numbers were increasing dramatically year after year. In fact, the number of laundry-related eye chemical burns went from 12 instances in 2012 to 480 by 2015.
According to the team, the injuries occurred when the children were playing with the pods and squeezed them tightly, forcing them to pop in their face and ultimately burn their eyes.
U.S. Product Safety Commission Warns About Pod Usage
By November 2012, the United States Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a laundry detergent pod warning to the public. They primarily focused on the risks to young children and specifically advised parents to:
- Not allow children to handle the laundry pods.
- Keep all detergents in a sealed container, lock them away, and keep them out of sight from young children.
- Call poison control immediately if a child accidentally ingests a pod or any of its contents.
New Packaging Has Not Helped
There were new requirements issued to manufacturers of these laundry pods to change their appearance so that they were not as attractive to young children. Also, the materials were required to be harder to tear open or less likely to burst if chewed on. The standards also require a bitter coating to the plastic so that it is a natural deterrent for children.
However, the public (and most parents) feel that the mandatory rules are far from effective.
Common Injuries Associated with Pod Exposure
- Excessive vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory distress
- Gastrointestinal damage
- Vision loss
- Brain injury (due to lack of oxygen)
If your child is exposed to a laundry pod or has any of the common poisoning symptoms after exposure, contact poison control or take them to the nearest emergency room, along with a pod sample, immediately.
Who is Liable for a Pod Injury?
Pod injuries and accidental poisonings fall under product liability law. All manufacturers in the country are required to ensure their products are safe for users as well as those who could be exposed to the product. Therefore, if a child was poisoned or suffered a chemical burn from a laundry pod, the manufacturer could be held liable under one of three theories of product liability law.
1. Design Defect
There are a few design defects to address with these laundry pods. For starters, the containers holding the pods were extremely easy to open (initially). They did not feature child safety locks, and could flip open and give a child access to the pods inside quickly. This design is unreasonably dangerous for small children.
Also, the pods themselves were defective. If a child were to squeeze them too hard, they could burst easily and burn that child.
Another design defect is the color and melting times of the packaging. The colors of the pods were intentionally designed to be colorful. While manufacturers did not intend for them to attract children, it was arguably a foreseeable risk. After all, manufacturers would know that their laundry pods would be in homes with small children, and colorful objects are attractive to young children.
2. Manufacturing Defects
While not always applicable in these poisoning and burn cases, laundry pods could fall under a manufacturing defect if the pod itself was manufactured improperly and bursts easier or melts faster than it should. Now that manufacturers are required to implement a bitter exterior, if the manufacturer did not include that bitter deterrent on the pod, they could be sued for a manufacturing defect that did not properly deter children from eating the product.
3. Warning Defects
The initial pods lacked warnings to parents about the risk to their children. Any omission of this warning could be considered a warning defect. While most manufacturers now have the warning labels, injuries that occurred a few years ago may not have had warning labels present on the products.
When Manufacturers Fail to Protect Consumers, Families Suffer
As a result of the defects associated with these laundry pods, you and your family suffered a traumatic injury. You have endured the emotional stress, your child’s physical injuries, and the financial burdens associated with a sick child. You or your spouse may have missed countless hours of work caring for your child, and your child may have long-term health issues as a result of ingesting the pod product.
No consumer should bear the burden for a manufacturer’s mistake.
If your child suffered an injury or you lost a loved one because of a defective pod product, you may be entitled to monetary damages. These monetary damages are awarded through a product liability claim brought against the manufacturer of the product. They are designed to compensate you for your financial losses, including medical costs, lost wages, and more.
How to Seek Compensation Against a Manufacturer When Your Child is Injured
After a laundry pod injury, you may be entitled to compensation against the manufacturer of that product. However, it is in your family’s best interest that you contact a personal injury attorney with experience handling product liability cases.
The area of product liability law is very complex, and not all product-related injuries result in compensation. However, you increase the likelihood of a successful case when you work with an attorney.
An attorney can sit down with you and your family, review your injuries, the costs, and other damages. Then, he or she can assess the best approach for seeking compensation from the manufacturer or other third parties.
Some compensation you and your loved ones may be entitled to include:
- Lost Wages – If you or your spouse missed work to care for your child, you may be entitled to compensation for those lost wages. When a parent cannot return to work because of the child’s injury, the financial impact may be devastating, which is why an attorney will work to recover as much of your lost income as possible.
- Medical Costs – Accidental poisonings and chemical eye burns are extremely costly to treat. Your child will not only have emergency room bills, but long-term recovery costs that add up very quickly.
- Pain and Suffering – From the emotional trauma you and your spouse have endured to the physical pain and emotional trauma your child has experienced, you may be entitled to compensation for the mental, emotional, and physical anguish your family has experienced.
To explore your options for compensation, contact the team that has experience with product liability cases at Malman Law. Schedule a free consultation with us now by calling our offices toll-free or contact us online to schedule.