Can I File a Child Injury Claim for Lead Poisoning?

lead poisoning in children

Lead is a heavy, very toxic metal that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It has been used for the thousands of years because it is abundant, easy to extract from the ground and simple to shape. It is also non-biodegradable and virtually indestructible. For these reasons, it was a key ingredient in many household products, such as paint, batteries, pottery, gasoline and solder until only a few decades ago. However, the ingestion, inhalation or any kind of exposure to lead can be toxic, especially to children. Unfortunately, while product recalls and industry regulations have reduced the amount of lead in many items, it is still common in paint and certain types of children’s toys. This may result in toxic lead exposure to children, which can cause illness, permanent injury and even wrongful death.

Lead poisoning claims are often more complex than other premises or product liability lawsuits, especially if child injuries are involved. Often, more than one company or party may be liable for lead poisoning, including toy manufacturers, distributers, property owners and more. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our lead poisoning lawyers have the experience and resources necessary to conduct thorough, far-reaching investigations into defective product claims. Through our work, we have obtained numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients, including in product liability claims.

Where is the Risk of Lead Poisoning Most Common?

Perhaps the most common place to find traces of lead is in household paint manufactured before 1978. It was in 1978 that the federal government enacted legislation banning the use of lead in household paints due to numerous studies demonstrating the dire health consequences of lead exposure. However, many older apartment buildings and houses still have old layers of lead-based paint on their walls. This paint is a main source of lead poisoning today, especially in children.

Other potential sources of lead include:

  • Air. The levels of lead in the air have decreased considerably over the last few decades, since federal regulations banned lead from gasoline in the 1970s.
  • Water. Lead is still present in some old water pipes. However, federal regulations now prohibit the use of lead in soldering broken pipes.
  • Food and Juices. Lead may be present in juices and foods stored in metal cans made abroad or ceramic containers that were improperly fired.

Among the most recently identified sources of dangerous lead poisoning is children’s toys, often those manufactured in China. Since May 2007, there have been a slew of highly publicized product recalls from well-known toy manufacturers due to the risk of lead poisoning. These include companies such as Mattell, Fisher Price and Sarge. In many cases, the toys subject to product recalls contain lead-based paint and/or magnets including lead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks recalls like this, which continue to be common.

What is Lead Poisoning and Who is Most at Risk?

Lead poisoning occurs when too much of this toxic metal builds up in the blood. Due to its chemical properties, lead can remain in the body for weeks or months before being filtered out. For this reason, excessive lead can accumulate in the bloodstream slowly, often due to prolonged exposure to small amounts of the substance. Outward signs or symptoms are subtle and/or not immediately recognizable. However, lead poisoning can cause serious, irreversible damage to the organs, brain and nervous system. Without treatment, wrongful death may result.

Children under the age of 12 are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. Children can absorb 50 percent of the lead they ingest, whereas adults can only absorb 10 percent. The curious nature of children and their tendency to put toys and other objects into their mouths also increases their risk of exposure to lethal levels of lead through defective toys, paint and other sources. Additionally, since children are still growing and developing, their brains and bodies are more susceptible to injury from exposure to chemicals and poisoning. While adults can sometimes fully recover, child injuries from lead poisoning can have permanent effects.

What are the Effects and Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Children?

High levels of lead poisoning can lead to damage throughout the body. In children, this damage can cause permanent symptoms and side effects. Some of the most severe effects of lead poisoning in children include:

  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Brain swelling
  • Hearing loss
  • Kidney damage
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Delayed growth and development
  • Coma
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Wrongful death

Even low levels of lead poisoning may cause irreparable damage or slow the development of a child’s brain. This can result in behavioral changes, including:

  • Loss of IQ
  • Delayed speech capabilities
  • Hyperactivity
  • Learning disabilities
  • Antisocial and even criminal behavior
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Identifying lead poisoning can be challenging because the early signs and symptoms are subtle and easy to misdiagnose. Therefore, parents should take care to monitor any changes in a child’s demeanor and behavior. Common symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Seizures
  • Hair loss
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anemia (low blood cell count)

If you notice any of these symptoms or think your child has been exposed to lead in any form, then it is vital that you take them to a pediatrician immediately. A physician will administer a simple blood test (a mere prick in the finger) to determine whether your child has lead poisoning. If so, there are several different treatment options to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

What Can I Do If a Toxic Toy Harmed My Child? Our PA Lead Poisoning Lawyers Can Help

If a toxic item or toy caused your child’s lead poisoning, then you may have grounds for a product liability claim. A lawsuit allows you to seek damages to help pay for your child’s medical treatment, ongoing care and, in some cases, pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s exposure, you may be able to collect compensation from landlords and contractors, and/or manufacturers of paint, oils and toys. Our lead poisoning lawyers can examine your unique situation and investigate to find all possible liable parties.

If your child suffered lead poisoning, contact an experienced child injury attorney at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.