- December 2, 2021
- Strong Law
- Personal Injury
Your Furniture May Be Dangerous
Children Are at Risk
Did you know that the furniture in your home could pose a health risk to your children? Quite possibly, the answer to this question is “no.” While information on keeping your family safe is shared constantly by news sources and social media, chances are you never considered your furniture to be particularly hazardous. Frighteningly, it may be.
Young children are active. They pull and climb on things you never would consider. It is not surprising for parents to turn around and see their 3-year-old scaling a shelving unit, or their five-year-old climbing up half-opened drawers to attempt to reach an item at the top of a dresser. The force with which a tipping piece of furniture can fall is alarming, to say the least. This video, produced in 2009 by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, illustrates how frightening an accident like this can be. While the video is several years old, the dangers of falling furniture remain a prevalent problem today.
Unfortunately, furniture is not always sturdy. And it can be heavy, particularly in relation to a small child. The impact of falling furniture can be devastating, causing permanent injury and even death.
Understanding Furniture Accidents
How Many Children Are Killed by Falling Furniture?
Simply asking this question is disheartening. Answering it is heartbreaking. Injury Epidemiology provides details from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and their study on injuries from the tip-over of furniture, TVs, and appliances.
469 children between the ages of one month and fourteen years were killed in tip-over-related related accidents from 2009-2019.
Additionally, the annual average (during this time period) of incidents that resulted in an emergency room visit for children under the age of 18 was 11,300. These situations are not isolated.
It is important to recognize that while children, particularly young kids, are highly susceptible to serious injury and death because of their size, tipping furniture is an issue that affects individuals of all ages. In fact, emergency room visits for those aged 18-59 numbered 10,000, and for seniors over 60 it was 4,200 during this same time period. Both the injury and death figures are startling. These are accidents that can and should be avoided.
Frequent Furniture Tip-Over Injuries
When you think about how much furniture weighs, it’s not hard to understand how a serious injury can result when a piece falls, especially when the victim is a child. Injuries often seen in emergency rooms that result from furniture falls include:
- Contusions, abrasions and lacerations
- Internal organ injuries
- Broken bones
- Suffocation (from being trapped beneath a fallen item)
- Head and neck injuries (including traumatic brain injuries)
- Loss of limb.
The cost of the medical care necessary to treat these injuries can be considerable. And, needless to say, the emotional trauma is significant.
Injury Recourse – Help Is Available
If your child (or an adult in your family) was a victim of tipping or falling furniture, chances are you are overwhelmed. You must manage the situation at hand (medical treatment and recovery or, in the most unfortunate circumstances, loss of life). The financial and emotional costs are considerable.
A product liability attorney may be able to help you obtain a settlement to compensate you for your losses.
In addition to manufacturers (who are responsible for producing safe products), others may be held accountable for falling furniture accidents, including suppliers, furniture designers, distributors, and retailers.
Product liability cases require proof of the following:
- Manufacturing Defects: These can be the result of poor workmanship, inadequate materials, or a disparity between the final product and its original design.
- Design Defects: This is when the product itself has issues. You must be able to prove that a safer design, produced under the same cost constraints, was possible.
- Marketing Defects: Product dangers (warnings) must be appropriately communicated to users. When they are not, marketing defects exist and those responsible may be held liable.
The product liability lawyers at Strong Law Firm can evaluate your situation and provide valuable advice as to how to move forward. Contact us today at 206-741-1053 for more information on how we can help you.
Product Liability Cases
Over the years, across the country, a host of falling furniture cases have been negotiated and litigated. At times, the settlements have been considerable.
- A Central Florida family obtained a $17.5 million settlement after their two-year-old daughter was killed when a dresser fell on her. The manufacturer ultimately agreed to both the financial payout and to provide warnings to end-users about furniture tipping and the importance of anchoring furniture to the wall.
- A mother was awarded $10 million when her son was killed by a lunch table that fell on him at school.
- The furniture giant IKEA has both issued product recalls and been the subject of multiple lawsuits and issues. Settlements have included:
- $46 million awarded to the parents of a child killed when a dresser fell on him, crushing his neck and causing him to suffocate.
- $50 million awarded to three families, each of whom had children killed by tipping “MALM” brand dressers.
- $2.3 million to the family of a three-year-old girl who died when a wardrobe fell on top of her.
In other instances, many companies, including Crate and Barrel, have recalled their products as a result of injuries suffered by owners.
How Do You Keep Furniture From Tipping?
Recognizing the Risk
The first step in protecting your family from tipping furniture is truly acknowledging that certain pieces of furniture do pose a safety risk. Many people simply don’t appreciate this fact. The number of incidents, injuries, and deaths is all the proof you should need to do a thorough safety review of the furniture in your home. The following pieces of furniture are among those most likely to be a safety risk:
- Chests and dressers
- Shelving units and bookshelves
These often heavy and unbalanced pieces have proven to be among the most dangerous. Keep in mind, dangers lurk everywhere in your home. You want to make sure each room is reviewed and protected.
Proven Safety Tips
We should all take the time to ensure that our houses are safe in every way possible. Steps you can take to prevent furniture from tipping include:
- Shopping smartly: When purchasing new furniture, make wise choices. If something looks like it is unsteady and may fall, it likely will. Wide, bottom-heavy, short furniture tends to be more sturdy than its taller, lighter counterparts.
- Anchoring: Anchoring heavy furniture and televisions is inexpensive and relatively easy to do if you are moderately handy. If you are not, or don’t have the required tools (like a drill), consider hiring a professional to help. A stud in a wall is the most secure spot to place the anchor.
- Considering Furniture Locations: It is always safer to place your furniture on solid ground. Uneven flooring can increase instability. If you have area rugs, ensure that the entire piece of furniture is either on the rug or off of it. Half on and half off is a recipe for disaster.
- Be Boring: Compelling items, like toys and electronics, stored in a high location are tempting for young (and often agile) climbers. Keep items that may be of interest to your children accessible to them. Better yet, keep everything that is on high shelves out of eyesight. Children are mesmerized by the strangest things. It’s best to not tempt them.
- Storing Smartly: Keep your heaviest items (like books) in your bottom drawers and on the lower shelves. This both helps provide stability and decreases the risk of a heavy item falling and hitting someone.
- Hide Cords: For some reason, there is nothing more tempting than an electrical cord — children see them and pull. This can cause lamps and heavy electronics to fall and may cause serious injury. Keep cords out reach of children by securing them behind furniture. Out of sight, out of mind.
Taking extra care by using the suggestions above helps protect your family and guests in your home. A little bit of time and planning is well worth the effort.
Contact Strong Law Today
The Knowledge and Experience You Need
If your child is the victim of a toppling furniture accident, contact the product liability lawyers at Strong Law today at 206-741-1053. The physical and emotional costs associated with accidents like this are considerable. The advice of respected professionals can assist you in determining how best to move forward, and their services can help you be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The attorneys at Strong Law believe that organizations are responsible for designing, manufacturing, and selling furniture that is safe to use. And, when accidents occur because of their negligence, they should be held accountable.