Furniture Tip-Over Accident Attorney in Boston

Sometimes everyday household objects pose dangers to the people we love the most. For example, furniture that tips over can seriously harm small children. When an injury occurs to the head or neck, the results can be fatal.

While furniture tip-over accidents have been declining in recent years thanks to government safety efforts, they still cause injury to thousands of people in the United States every year.

You should expect that the furniture you buy from known manufacturers or retailers will be safe for use in the home. However, when that is not the case, the child injury attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers can help ensure that justice is served.

If your child sustained a severe injury in a furniture tip-over accident, our lawyers will explain your rights under the law and advise as to how you can hold all negligent parties liable and recover financial compensation for your loss.

While no sum of money can compensate you and your family for the injuries sustained or the loss of a child, monetary compensation can help you pay your child's medical bills and other expenses and move forward with your life.

How Do Furniture Tip-Over Accidents Occur?

Young children are curious by nature. They may climb on furniture or open cabinet doors. As toddlers learn to walk, they often use pieces of furniture to pull themselves up or for balance. In the case of dressers, when upper drawers are open, the unit can become top-heavy and topple over. When furniture makers fail to consider child safety when designing and manufacturing bookshelves and other pieces of furniture, the results can be catastrophic.

Furniture companies have a duty to warn about tip-over risks related to large and heavy pieces of furniture and provide materials to anchor the furniture to a wall. When companies cut corners and place profits over safety, they can and should be held liable for damages.

In addition, furniture manufacturers must provide consumers with adequate instructions related to the safe use of their products. That means they must provide assembly instructions, including how to mount the unit to the wall when appropriate.

Children in the 0-9 age range are most likely to be injured in a tip-over accident. However, these accidents can injure adults, too. Adults ages 40 to 49 are another high-risk group likely to need emergency medical treatment following a tip-over accident.

While any piece of large furniture can tip over and injure someone, here is a list of furniture and household appliances routinely involved in these incidents:

  • Dressers
  • Bookshelves
  • Shelving units
  • Entertainment centers
  • TV stands
  • Televisions
  • Benches
  • Chairs
  • Folding tables
  • Stoves
  • Ovens

Furniture with an unstable design is at risk of toppling over, as is furniture placed on carpeting or an uneven or sloping surface.

Although furniture incidents seem to make the headlines, government statistics show that 71% of all child fatalities involved televisions, and 62% of all fatalities across all age groups involved TVs.

As TV technology has improved over the years, it is common for people to replace older, heavier TVs with newer, lighter models that can be mounted on the wall. When the old TV ends up in a spare bedroom or some other room, that TV poses a danger because of its weight and ability to topple over.

Common Injuries in a Furniture Tip-Over Accident

When a large piece of furniture falls on top of a child, the child can suffer a brain injury or die of suffocation caused by the heavy object.

About 18,000 Americans (almost half of whom were children) visited emergency rooms in 2020 for injuries they suffered when a piece of furniture or a television tipped over and hurt them.

A February 2022 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that there have been 581 tip-over deaths in the U.S. since 2000 and that four in five of those deaths were children. The agency also reported that a child dies every two weeks from toppling furniture, appliances, or televisions. Some safety experts have called tip-over accidents a public health crisis.

Here are some typical injuries that people suffer in these accidents:

Many of these injuries are so serious that an injured child may experience life-long effects.

Who Is Responsible for a Furniture Tip-Over Accident?

Depending on the facts of your case, multiple parties may be liable for a furniture tip-over accident, including:

  • Retailers
  • Hotels and motels
  • Airbnbs and other rental properties
  • Schools and daycares
  • Homeowners

Tip-over cases tend to be high-profile because they involve very young children. Swedish furniture maker IKEA has been hit with a number of tip-over lawsuits. Most recently, IKEA paid $46 million to the family of a 2-year-old boy who was killed when a dresser toppled over on top of him. The family alleged that IKEA knew of the tipping hazard associated with the dresser for years but failed to take any corrective action.

In the largest furniture recall in history, the company recalled 29 million MALM dressers and chests in 2016. However, there are likely still millions of the recalled dressers in use. At least eight children are believed to have been killed by IKEA dressers.

Currently, IKEA requires customers who purchase dressers to sign a piece of paper indicating that they understand the need to anchor the furniture to a wall.

Some companies that have either recalled furniture because of tip-over risks or have been hit with product liability suits are:

  • IKEA
  • Ashley Furniture
  • Crate and Barrel
  • Kirkland's Inc.
  • South Shore Corp.
  • Midwest Folding Products
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Million Dollar Baby

Almost all fatal tip-over accidents involving children happen in the child's home, and most of those accidents take place in the bedroom. However, tip-over accidents can occur anywhere, including at a hotel, vacation rental, daycare facility, or even at someone else's house. In those cases, an insurance policy may provide coverage.

Regardless of where your tip-over accident occurred or who is to blame, it is to your advantage to team up with a skilled and experienced lawyer. To win a product liability lawsuit, you will need to prove that the furniture or TV is defective. An attorney will perform a detailed investigation and collect evidence to put the blame where it belongs—on the negligent manufacturer or premises owner.

The most critical evidence in these cases is usually the furniture (or television), so do not throw it away. Pictures or videos of the toppled unit may also be helpful. In Massachusetts, you have three years from the date of injury to file a product liability suit.

Tips on Preventing Furniture Tip-Over Accidents

In 2015, the CPSC launched its "Anchor It!" campaign to encourage parents and other caregivers to securely anchor furniture and TVs to the wall to prevent tip-over injuries.

In addition to anchoring, the agency offers these safety recommendations:

  • Place televisions on a sturdy, low base and push the TV far back when anchoring is impossible.
  • Do not store toys or remotes where children may need to climb to reach them.
  • Store heavy items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
  • Keep TV and cable cords where kids cannot reach them.

The agency also notes that adult supervision is recommended, even when furniture and TVs have been anchored.

In addition to anchors, a device known as a "drawer stop" can be used to prevent a drawer from being pulled out too far. And anti-tip brackets can prevent freestanding stoves and ovens from toppling over.

You might be wondering whether you have a claim against IKEA or another furniture manufacturer if you failed to anchor a dresser or other unit to the wall. The short answer is yes.

A parent may have lacked the skills needed to anchor a piece of furniture to a wall, or the parent may have been renting an apartment and was not allowed to drill holes in the wall per the landlord's instructions. About two-thirds of Americans say they have never anchored a piece of furniture.

And many safety experts say that anchoring is not the solution to tip-over accidents. Anchors can be challenging to install, and they can break or fail. Instead, these experts say the answer lies with the manufacturer. More stable furniture designs can prevent these accidents from happening, they say.

To learn how our child injury and wrongful death attorneys can help you with a furniture or TV tip-over case, contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers at (617) 777-7777 or fill out our online form.

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