Coral Springs, Florida: When you think of the potential causes of injuries in your own household, what comes to mind? Maybe power tools, outlets, fires, or falling down the stairs. But one unexpected source of injury can be your furniture!
Injuries caused by TVs, kitchen appliances, couches, chairs, tables, or beds are more common than you may think. This is especially true for children, who tend to climb on, or otherwise put more strain on the furniture. More than 560,000 children suffered injuries in furniture- or TV-related accidents between 1990 and 2019.
Types of Injury Cases
In 2017, a 2-year-old boy in Lakeland, Florida was found unresponsive after an Ikea dresser in his bedroom tipped over and fell on him. Ikea, who apparently sold and/or manufactured the furniture, claimed that their products met the furniture industry’s voluntary safety standard. At the time, there was no federal safety standard for dressers and other similar types of furniture (though as we note below, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently approved a new federal mandatory safety standard for clothing storage units).
Most often these injuries occur because of “Tip Over” or “Product Instability.” In 2019, 22,400 people were treated in an emergency room due to injuries caused by tip over or product instability incidents. Of those 22,400 people, 8,100 were under 18 years old. The Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report stating that in 2020, that number has dropped to 18,100 people, and 8,100 minors. Although this is an improvement, this is still a staggering number.
In a recent lawsuit against Ikea, two California parents were awarded 46 million dollars to compensate them for the death of their child. A dresser that the family purchased tipped over and crushed the child, leaving him with injuries that later resulted in the child’s death. As it turns out, the design of this particular dresser caused it to easily tip over. Ikea had received 186 reports of the dresser tipping over and causing injury. 91 of those reports included a child being injured.
Cases like these remind us that there are personal injury lawyers out there who make the world a better and safer place. After having to reckon with the errors of their ways, Ikea agreed to recall all of the dressers and to meet with Parents Against Tip-overs, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing injuries caused by furniture tipping over.
Although tip over and product instability is a significant source of furniture-related injuries, it’s not the only concern. You could potentially be injured because of any number of problems with furniture, including:
- Poorly constructed furniture
- Unclear or misleading installation instructions
- Poorly designed furniture
- Dangerous chemicals in the finish of the furniture
- Moving furniture around your house
Another possible scenario, you may have bought a used wooden chair from a resale store, but they cut corners and repainted the chair with lead paint, which then chips off and gets in the air or the paint chips get eaten by pets and children.
Many years ago one of our clients was interested in purchasing one of these cheap white plastic chairs made in China. So she tested it out right there in the store, and when she went to sit down in it, it collapsed and she injured her back and ended up having a spinal surgery. We filed the lawsuit against Eckerd's drug stores, (as it's very difficult to sue manufacturers in China) and received a settlement for this woman
Another type of incident occurs as a result of installation problems. You may have bought furniture from a furniture store and paid for installation. When the installation crew put together the furniture, they forgot an important screw. Then your bunk bed collapses and you or your child drops to the floor.
Perhaps you bought a bookshelf with some assembly required. You assemble it yourself, but didn’t notice that a structural wooden piece of the furniture is defective and does not meet the standard weight limit that is advertised for the piece of furniture. You place a glass ornament on the shelf, only to have it fall and break, causing injury from the flying glass.
You could incur many different types of injuries from furniture incidents occurring in your house, such as:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or skull fracture after collapsing in a chair and striking your head against the ground
- Brain bleeding from impact after tip over incident
- Death from impact or asphyxiation after tip over incident
- Fractured arms and/or legs after chair or couch collapse
- Chemical intoxication from lead paint or dangerous finishes
- Burns from fires started in the house or accelerated by non-flame-retardant furniture
- Lacerations from sharp corners of falling furniture or glass
How To Prevent Injuries
Now, you may be wondering, what can you do to prevent these types of injuries? Thankfully, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announced a mandatory federal safety standard that requires more testing and better labeling for dressers and other furniture pieces that are a risk for tipping over.
Although the ultimate solution should be for each company in the furniture supply chain to ensure the safety of their products, there are steps you can take yourself to try to prevent the type of injuries described in this article.
- Secure unstable furniture to the wall
- Install drawer stoppers to keep drawers from slamming or accidentally falling out
- Place heavy items towards the bottom of shelves or dressers
- Securely mount TVs to the wall
- Hide cords to prevent tripping over them or pulling them
- Install corner protectors
- Only place TVs on TV stands, not on dressers
If you or anyone whom you know has suffered a serious personal injury as a result of by an incident involving furniture, call Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez, P.A. at (954) 833-1440 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. We are located in Broward County, Florida, and we are available to handle cases involving furniture incidents that occurred anywhere in Florida or, in some instances, nationwide.
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