Parents and guardians work hard to make their homes safe for children. Baby gates, cabinet locks, and outlet covers are just a few of the products designed to keep children safe from common household objects. Even with all these preventative steps, however, hundreds of children are killed or injured in their own homes.
Unfortunately, even the best babyproofing can’t always prevent accidents. Many incidents involve unsafe pieces of large furniture such as dressers, shelves, and entertainment units. Young children are often tempted to climb on dressers, bookcases, and bureaus, which can then tip over, causing severe injuries or death. Defective units may tip over even without the additional weight and pressure of a climbing child.
At Carr & Carr, we are dedicated to holding manufacturers accountable for defective and dangerous products. If a furniture tip-over incident has affected your family, contact our team to learn what legal options you have.
Furniture-Related Accident Statistics
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), furniture tip-over incidents caused an average of 22,500 emergency-department-treated injuries each year between 2018 and 2020. Two-thirds of these incidents occurred in residential settings. Common injuries included abrasions, contusions, lacerations, fractures, and damage to internal organs.
Children under the age of 18 were disproportionately represented in the number of furniture tip-over injuries. They accounted for 44 percent of injuries despite making up only 22 percent of the population.
The number of reported fatalities from tip-over incidents between 2000 and 2020 was 581, and 91 percent of those incidents occurred in residential settings. Of those fatalities, 472 (81 percent) were children under 18 years old. Two-thirds (66 percent) of fatal incidents involved head injuries.
Common Causes of Furniture Tip-Over Incidents
The most common cause of furniture tipping over is when a toddler tries to climb onto or pull themself up on the furniture. In many cases, these items have shelves and/or drawers that children like to climb on. A child falling against a piece of furniture can also cause it to topple over.
In other cases, furniture tips over because it was poorly designed or defectively manufactured. Ideally, dressers, armoires, chests of drawers, and similar furnishings should be designed and built so that the back and bottom are the heaviest areas. This weight distribution model can prevent the item from falling forward when excess weight is placed on open drawers, as when a child tries to climb on them. Without extra weight in the lower back portion, the piece of furniture can easily tip over, causing injuries and fatalities.
The CPSC provides tips for reducing the risk of furniture tip-over incidents:
- Use a low, sturdy base to hold a TV, place the unit as far back as possible, and/or anchor it to the wall.
- Secure TV cords so children cannot reach or interact with them.
- Don’t place toys, remotes, or other interesting objects in places where children may attempt to climb up and reach them.
- Store heavy items in lower drawers or shelves.
Anchoring furniture to the wall is often the most effective way to prevent it from tipping over. This can be especially important for tall bookcases and shelves that children attempt to climb on. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t include brackets or other hardware to attach to the wall, increasing the risk of a tip-over accident.
Product Liability and Wrongful Death Claims
A child’s injury or death in a furniture tip-over incident is a catastrophic event with severe emotional and financial consequences. Insurance claims don’t always cover the cost of medical bills, therapy, and long-term care. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, product liability or wrongful death laws may apply.
In a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, you can seek economic compensation to cover the cost of medical bills, ongoing treatment, and future medical costs. You can also pursue non-economic compensation to address pain and suffering. If the court rules that the furniture designer or manufacturer was liable for the incident, they may also impose punitive damages as punishment for making and selling a dangerous item.
A furniture tip-over attorney can listen to your story and help you understand your options for pursuing financial compensation. You may be able to file an injury or wrongful death claim, which can help you recover your financial stability and persuade designers and manufacturers to make products that are safer.
Carr & Carr Provides Compassionate Legal Support for Families Affected by Furniture Accidents
Sometimes, basic safety precautions can’t make up for unsafe design features or poor-quality manufacturing of furniture and other household items. Many children, especially toddlers, are injured or killed when dressers, bookcases, or entertainment units tip over.
At Carr & Carr, we have helped many Oklahoma families file injury and wrongful death claims related to unsafe household items. If a furniture tip-over accident has affected your family, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills and emotional suffering. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an Oklahoma personal injury attorney, contact us online or call 539-842-2117.